Versace Allegedly Employed a Code Designed to Identify Black Shoppers

One of Versace’s former employees, Christopher Sampino, has come forward to file suit against the company alleging state law violations, i.e. unfair business practices, wrongful termination, racial discrimination, etc. The lawsuit claims that the Italian design house uses a secret “black code” that alerts staff and security when there is a black shopper in one of their retail locations.

Sampino’s complaint was filed in Alameda County Superior Court and included allegations that he was discriminated against by Versace for being of mixed race. He was fired after just two weeks at the Versace outlet store in Pleasanton, California. In the complaint, Sampino alleges that new-employee training included an unnamed manger advising him regarding the “D410 Code.” The code is used for labeling black clothing, but it is also used in a casual manner whenever a black person enters the Versace store. When he was advised of the use of the code, the manager explained that it was used to alert Versace workers that a “black person is in the store.”

Sampino also claims that during his time with Versace he was harassed and eventually terminated after informing the store manager that he was, in fact, black. According to Sampino, he met and/or exceeded all expectations in connection with his Versace employment, but was fired after two weeks because he did not “understand luxury” and did not “know the luxury life.” Versace also advised Sampino that his dismissal was due to his lack of experiencing a luxury life. He was advised to quit in order to make the paperwork easier.

Labor Violation Allegations Listed in Sampino’s Suit Include:

1. Not being paid for time worked.

2. Not receiving required rest periods.

3. Being wrongfully terminated.

Sampino seeks class action certification. If the proposed class action lawsuit is certified by the court, other employees and/or former employees of Versace who found themselves in similar situations and were subjected to discriminatory treatment by Versace in the U.S. during the same time frame would be able to join in the case and share in any settlement amounts.

If you have been wrongfully terminated or if you have questions regarding the definition of wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.