If there’s one thing that’s bad for business, it’s racism. Unfortunately for Apple, two New York City men have filed a lawsuit that accuses employees of the company’s store in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan of racial discrimination.
The Plaintiffs, Brian Johnston, 34, and Nile Charles, 25, say the incident in question took place on December 9, 2010 at the Apple Store on 1981 Broadway, reports Apple Insider. According to the lawsuit, the two men, both of whom are black, say an Apple employee approached them in an “intimidating fashion,” and invaded their “personal space” soon after the pair walked into the store wearing “baggy jeans and large sweatshirts with hoods.”
The Apple employee purportedly told the plaintiffs that they had to either buy something, see a Mac Specialist, or leave the store immediately. Before they could respond, however, Johnston and Charles say the employee literally told them they could not shop at the store because of their race.
“And before you say I’m racially discriminating against you, let me stop you. I am discriminating against you,” the lawsuit claims the employee said. “I don’t want ‘your kind’ hanging out in the store.”
“Shocked and humiliated,” Johnston and Charles say they then took out their cell phones to record the customer-employee faceoff when they were confronted by another employee, who allegedly told them, “you have to go.” The employee added, “If you want to know why, it’s because I said so. CONSIDER ME GOD. You have to go.”
“In order to further harass, degrade, humiliate, and discriminate against Plaintiffs, the manager asked Defendant’s Head of Security to call 911,” the suit reads. “Defendant interfered with Plaintiffs right to purchase personal property because of their race.”
The lawsuit, originally filed in February, accuses Apple of discrimination under both New York state and federal civil rights laws. The plaintiffs seek damages due to “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses.”
This is not the first time Apple has faced such complaints because of its retail store employees. In 2010, a separate lawsuit accused employees at an Apple Store in Orlando, FL, of age discrimination. And in May of last year, the Apple Store in the SoHo district of Manhattan reportedly turned away customers wanting to purchase iPads because they were Chinese.
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