FASHION LAW: TIFFANY & CO. RECEIVES BACKLASH OVER ALLEGED RACIAL BIAS
Luxury jewelry retailer, Tiffany & Co., has made headlines again, this time not involving a former employer accused of theft, but a current employer claiming the company wants to get rid of him due to his racial background.
Michael McClure, a group director for Tiffany & Co., filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court challenging Tiffany’s “systemic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination,” according to the New York Times. The infamous turquoise box jeweler, most eminently known from Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is accused of trying to get rid of McClure because of his skin color in a racial discrimination lawsuit.
As group director, the plaintiff is in charge of more than one retail store, but asserts in his complaint that: he is the only African American out of over 200 managerial positions company wide, who presently holds a management position in charge of representing Tiffany & Co. to the public.
McClure, a stellar employee of Tiffany for over a decade (as seen in his positive performance reviews), claims the company started to transform last fall when changes to management were made. As outlined in the suit, the new Senior VP for North America, Anthony Ledru, asked store and group directors to send photographs of themselves for personal travel purposes. The following spring, McClure claims he received a negative review, was denied a bonus even after sales at one of his stores increased 15%, and was placed on warning and threatened with the possibility of being fired. All of these accusations culminated in what McClure states were an “apparent agenda to get rid of him from the start and racial bias at Tiffany.”
McClure decided to take matters into his own hands and hired a lawyer. Tiffany conducted two internal investigations, and according to McClure, he received an anonymous envelope stating that Ledru had, more or less, been shocked to learn that a Black man was representing the Tiffany brand.
Robert Kraus, McClure’s lawyer accuses the jewelry powerhouse of “showing racial bias in the belief, conscious or otherwise, that African Americans are not appropriate ambassadors for the iconic, luxurious, and sophisticated Tiffany brand.”
Tiffany has denied all allegations claiming the lawsuit in its entirety is without merit.
News reference via NYTimes