A former Versace employee is suing the brand for unfair business practices, CNN reports.
23-year-old Christopher Sampiro says he was fired for being mixed race after working two weeks at the Versace outlet in Pleasanton, California.
One of the allegations in his lawsuit is that the luxury fashion label uses a secret “code” to alert employees when Black customers enter the store.
He alleges that during the new-employee training, a manager asked him if he knew about the “D410 Code.” That’s the same code used for black clothing.
According to Sampiro, he was instructed by the manager to say, “‘D410’ in a casual manner when a Black person entered the store,” the lawsuit states. The document further goes on to say the manager explained the “code is used to alert co-workers that ‘a Black person is in the store.'”
Sampiro responded by asking the manager, “You know that I’m African-American?” In the lawsuit, Sampiro self-identifies as one-quarter African-American.
After two weeks of employment, Sampiro was fired in September because he didn’t “understand luxury” and didn’t “know the luxury life,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed six weeks after the alleged exchange, but doesn’t mention the name of the manager. Sampiro says he was treated differently and denied “legitimate” training after the incident.
Sampiro also alleges he was not paid for time worked, did not receive rest periods and was wrongfully terminated.
Versace has denied Sampiro’s allegations and asked a judge to dismiss the case. A case status conference is scheduled for Mar. 21.