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Lawsuit accuses Broadway Apple Store employees of racial discrimination  

post #1 of 213
Thread Starter 
Apple is the target of a new lawsuit that claims employees of the company's Upper West Side store in New York City told two black men they were not welcome there.

Plaintiffs Brian Johnston, 34, and Nile Charles, 25, have accused Apple of discrimination after an incident they claim occurred on Dec. 9, 2010. Both Johnston and Charles went to the store at 1981 Broadway when the incident allegedly began with an Apple employee, said to be white and in his 50s.

The lawsuit notes that Charles and Johnston, who are black, went to the Broadway Apple store wearing "baggy jeans and large sweaters with hoods" to purchase headphones. It was around 3:20 p.m., they claim, that the Apple employee, about 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, confronted them.

The lawsuit alleges that the Apple employee approached the customers in an "intimidating fashion," invading their "personal space," and said to them, "You know the deal. You know the deal."

The employee allegedly told the plaintiffs that they must leave the store unless they planned to purchase something or see a Mac Specialist. Johnston and Charles claim that before they could respond, the Apple employee told them they were not welcome there 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."

Johnston and Charles say they were "shocked and humiliated" by the alleged incident. They reportedly used their cell phones to record the confrontation when they say another Apple Store employee approached them.

"Now you have to go," one of the employees is claimed in the lawsuit to have said. "If you want to know why, it's because I said so. CONSIDER ME GOD. You have to go."



Johnston and Charles said they asked to speak to a manager, but the store's head of security ignored their request. They reportedly found a manager on their own, and made allegations of racial profiling.

"In order to further harass, degrade, humiliate, and discriminate against Plaintiffs, the manager asked Defendant's Head of Security to call 911," the complaint reads. "Defendant interfered with Plaintiffs right to purchase personal property because of their race."

The lawsuit was filed earlier this year in February in New York Supreme Court. The filing came to light this month after the case was moved to U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit accuses Apple of discrimination under both New York and federal civil rights laws. The plaintiffs seek punitive damages, and originally argued that those damages exceed the jurisdictional amounts of all lower courts. They assert they are entitled to damages due to ongoing "emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses."

The Upper West Side store where the incident allegedly took place opened in late 2009. It features a unique curved glass roof and glass front.

Late last year, a separate lawsuit against Apple accused one of its retail stores in Orlando, Fla., of age discrimination. The plaintiff in that case, a man in his 60s, was an employee of the store who claims he was denied promotions because of his age.
post #2 of 213
I think there is more data that needs to come out for this story. Just judging from this article, this is a horrible, horrible thing. But are they known shoplifters around NYC? At other Apple retail locations? And some of the statements allegedly made (CONSIDER ME GOD!) seem a little too far fetched to take everything at face value. I'll wait until I see more information, but if this is all true, this is a bad, bad thing, and these employees need to be fired and sued individually.
post #3 of 213
I highly doubt these 2 people were innocently shopping for headphones.
post #4 of 213
Real gangsters don't visit the Apple store during business hours of operation

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

post #5 of 213
Walk like a thug, talk like a thug and dress like a thug, you can't complain about the reception you get.
Do you think they would have been tossed if they were wearing an Armani suit?
post #6 of 213
They sound like two trouble makers imo but they could still be right. It depends if colored people dress more like bussiness man get the same treatment. It could be look/wealth related more than race related.

I got a strange feeling that this could be planned in order to file a lawsuit. After patent trolls now racist trolls?
post #7 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"If you want to know why, it's because I said so. CONSIDER ME GOD...."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment
post #8 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadMac View Post

Walk like a thug, talk like a thug and dress like a thug, you can't complain about the reception you get.
Do you think they would have been tossed if they were wearing an Armani suit?

You mean there should be a dress code at Apple Stores? Maybe. Many upscale restaurants have dress codes.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

post #9 of 213
Quote:

"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."

I read that to say: I am not racially discriminating against you, I am discriminating against you for other reasons - appearance and dress. Thats "your kind"

Should be easy enough to defend. Were there black americans in there at the time, without hoods, and were they discriminated against ( clearly not: this is a two person class action suit) . Were whites kicked out at other occasions if sporting certain attire at any time in the operation of this store. If so, forget it.
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
post #10 of 213
I saw a white guy being asked to leave the 5th Avenue Apple Store. It was 3 a.m. and he was starting to fall asleep on one of the benches. The employees weren't rude or anything, just told him he had to leave if he wasn't doing business there. I've sat for a couple of hours working on my iPad there and they never bothered me, but then again I'm not black nor dressed in gangsta fashions.

But this doesn't sound real to me. Nobody but either very dumb or very rich people would look for accessories like headphones at the Apple Store. The prices are just too high compared with Amazon, eBay, etc.
post #11 of 213
That is just it. If you dress like a typical gangster wanna be dresses like, people are going to treat you as such. That has nothing to do with race. It isn't illegal to discriminate against somebody for the way they dress.

If Apple has african americans working in the store, especially in management, these folks are probably going to have a hard time winning the lawsuit. Even if the recording shows the employee acting in a clearly discriminating manner, Apple wouldn't be liable unless it adopted discriminatory policies. Then again, if the case makes it to a jury, who knows what will happen.

I used to work in a employment law firm where we defended companies accused of work place discrimination. Nine out of ten times such allegations were clearly fabricated. Unfortunately, the employers had to pay tens of thousands of dollars to defend such allegations. Another reason employers probably like doing business in places like China instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadMac View Post

Walk like a thug, talk like a thug and dress like a thug, you can't complain about the reception you get.
Do you think they would have been tossed if they were wearing an Armani suit?
post #12 of 213
No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination. And no, there's no dress code at any Apple Store, unlike IBM. You can dress in any comfortable way you want. And you can speak with any accent. Prejudice is not an excuse for discrimination.

Steve Jobs will never approve of this. He's a Buddhist, and a vegetarian. He's the most humble person you will ever come across. He would never consider himself a God.

All involved employees of the Store should be fired.

Now, I wonder which one of you on AppleInsider is a racist?
post #13 of 213
404 - Racial discrimination not found.
post #14 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

I read that to say: I am not racially discriminating against you, I am discriminating against you for other reasons - appearance and dress. Thats "your kind"

Should be easy enough to defend. Were there black americans in there at the time, without hoods, and were they discriminated against ( clearly not: this is a two person class action suit) . Were whites kicked out at other occasions if sporting certain attire at any time in the operation of this store. If so, forget it.

Businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. There's a lot of details missing in this article, and a lot of assumptions being made. While racism is certainly alive in America, if I saw a couple of seedy-looking punks (regardless of race) enter my store, they would at the minimum, would be closely monitored. What behavior were they displaying? Where they talking loud and using foul, abusive language on every other word? Where they behaving like the angels their lawyer is making them out to be?
post #15 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post

I highly doubt these 2 people were innocently shopping for headphones.

And what do you base your opinion on ..... the fact that they're black? .... or wear baggy pants? You may be right .... you may be wrong ..... as for me, I'll hold judgement until more details come forth. There are always two sides to every story. cheers.
See, in the record business, you can show someone your song, and they don’t copy it. In the tech business, you show somebody your idea, and they steal it. (Jimmy Iovine)
See, in the record business, you can show someone your song, and they don’t copy it. In the tech business, you show somebody your idea, and they steal it. (Jimmy Iovine)
post #16 of 213
Apple Store cameras should settle this case easily. I look forward to an update on this.
post #17 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

I think there is more data that needs to come out for this story. Just judging from this article, this is a horrible, horrible thing. But are they known shoplifters around NYC? At other Apple retail locations? And some of the statements allegedly made (CONSIDER ME GOD!) seem a little too far fetched to take everything at face value. I'll wait until I see more information, but if this is all true, this is a bad, bad thing, and these employees need to be fired and sued individually.

There is nothing in the incident as described that suggests *racial* discrimination to me. Stores are allowed to discriminate as long as it doesn't get racial.

The fact that the guy is a 50+ white male is a red flag for sure, but the fact that these guys appeared to be dressed like (and perhaps acting like), booster artists is definitely a factor as well.

As with most things like this, it probably isn't worth arguing about without video. So much of the story is down to the attitudes and body language of those involved. The defendants could be two innocent guys in baggy clothes, or two suspicious looking a-holes. The white guy could be a decent fellow trying to do his job or a complete racist bastard. We just don't know.

It does sound like the very manager they found to hear their complaint (not the dude who thought he was god), is also the one who called security on them, so it's not like the Apple store employees were in any disagreement about these guys.

That being said, I've also had an Apple store employee (a manager in fact), freak out on me and force me to leave the store. Many emails and phone calls later the manager was disciplined from what I was told.
post #18 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

They sound like two trouble makers imo but they could still be right. It depends if colored people dress more like bussiness man get the same treatment. It could be look/wealth related more than race related.

I got a strange feeling that this could be planned in order to file a lawsuit. After patent trolls now racist trolls?

Colored people? Damn, did I just step back 50 years or something?
post #19 of 213
This sounds like total BS, just wanting a payoff
post #20 of 213
Certainly not the first time that Apple has been sued for discrimination. Several prior claims if you Google it. But that's probably common for nearly any company, especially one as prominent in retail as Apple is. It comes with the territory if you're going to deal with the public.
melior diabolus quem scies
melior diabolus quem scies
post #21 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronTed View Post

No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination. And no, there's no dress code at any Apple Store, unlike IBM. You can dress in any comfortable way you want. And you can speak with any accent. Prejudice is not an excuse for discrimination.

Steve Jobs will never approve of this. He's a Buddhist, and a vegetarian. He's the most humble person you will ever come across. He would never consider himself a God.

All involved employees of the Store should be fired.

Now, I wonder which one of you on AppleInsider is a racist?

... and you base all of your opinion on one news article on a rumours site.... hmmmmm...

"Kill them, kill them all."
na na na na na...
na na na na na...
post #22 of 213
I'm sure Apple has video of every angle of the store - maybe we can look at it to see what was happening. Coupled with witness testimony it could help us here.

And when people say "THUG" and don't preface it with "UNION" - well we know what you really mean.
post #23 of 213
Quote:

This has been another edition of... Things we learn on Community.

http://www.nbc.com/community/video/g...llege/1175266/
post #24 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadMac View Post

Walk like a thug, talk like a thug and dress like a thug, you can't complain about the reception you get.
Do you think they would have been tossed if they were wearing an Armani suit?

Yup - I am sure these guys walked, talked and dressed like thugs. I can deduce that from the article. No bias on my part. No prejudice. I say they are guilty.
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

They sound like two trouble makers imo but they could still be right. It depends if colored people dress more like bussiness man get the same treatment. It could be look/wealth related more than race related.

I got a strange feeling that this could be planned in order to file a lawsuit. After patent trolls now racist trolls?

Definitely sound like trouble makers. Why else would they be buying only earphones. Everything in the article makes them sound like trouble. Not like the Apple staff who clearly were just doing their job. I can deduce that from the article, too. You know, reading between the lines, and all that. Without prejudice, you understand.

Honestly guys, think before you write. This is one of those stories where it is not ok to have an opinion about what happened. I mean how the fuck do you know?
post #25 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadMac View Post

Walk like a thug, talk like a thug and dress like a thug, you can't complain about the reception you get.
Do you think they would have been tossed if they were wearing an Armani suit?

Do you think they would have been tossed if they were white and dressed that way? Are all black people now required to wear Armani suits in order to not be treated like criminals?
post #26 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronTed View Post

No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination. And no, there's no dress code at any Apple Store, unlike IBM. You can dress in any comfortable way you want. And you can speak with any accent. Prejudice is not an excuse for discrimination.

Steve Jobs will never approve of this. He's a Buddhist, and a vegetarian. He's the most humble person you will ever come across. He would never consider himself a God.

All involved employees of the Store should be fired.

Now, I wonder which one of you on AppleInsider is a racist?

Really, you know for sure all of this based on third party accounts?

I suppose anyone who disagrees with you is a racist?

And what does Steve jobs have to do with this incident? I know many buddhists, and vegetarians. None of that had anything to do with how kind or humble they actually were or were not.

Fire first and ask questions later is a lazy way to solve a problem.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
post #27 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronTed View Post

No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination. And no, there's no dress code at any Apple Store, unlike IBM. You can dress in any comfortable way you want. And you can speak with any accent. Prejudice is not an excuse for discrimination.

Steve Jobs will never approve of this. He's a Buddhist, and a vegetarian. He's the most humble person you will ever come across. He would never consider himself a God.

All involved employees of the Store should be fired.

Now, I wonder which one of you on AppleInsider is a racist?

Before you continue with your diatribe Ted, do you live in NYC? Racism (at least in my circles) is in fact simply unacceptable and impractical. How could one be a racist, or a homophobe etc and still live in NY? it's impossible. The first sign of racism and the source will be ostracized. Period. You will never get hired for a job as a bigot, you will never make any contacts. At least half of the Apple store employees are "minorities" in NY. No one cares, unless they want to use the race card to explain away some self deficiency.

I will say however that NY is certainly a place that judges you by appearance and your ability to speak. If you want a "corporate" job (the Apple store is one of them) don't go dressed like doofus and do speak like a professional, whatever your race is and no matter what is said to you.

Further, there is a dress code at the Apple stores. Why do you think they all wear those silly shirts? It happens to be a pretty informal dress code, but I doubt overly baggy jeans and a bad attitude would fly any better than "assless" riding chaps.

Standards do not imply racism or discrimination.

I should also add that Buddhists can be racists too. I have friends from Tibet who's words are not kind to the Chinese. Understandably; so I'm not criticizing them, but the fact of the matter is we are all racist on some level. Even those in the "minority" who call out "racism" every time they can't explain why they can't get what they want.
turtles all the way up and turtles all the way down... infinite context means infinite possibility
turtles all the way up and turtles all the way down... infinite context means infinite possibility
post #28 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

I saw a white guy being asked to leave the 5th Avenue Apple Store. It was 3 a.m. and he was starting to fall asleep on one of the benches. The employees weren't rude or anything, just told him he had to leave if he wasn't doing business there. I've sat for a couple of hours working on my iPad there and they never bothered me, but then again I'm not black nor dressed in gangsta fashions.

But this doesn't sound real to me. Nobody but either very dumb or very rich people would look for accessories like headphones at the Apple Store. The prices are just too high compared with Amazon, eBay, etc.

Are you kidding? Everyone in New York wears Dre Beats headphones. Apple sells them in store last time I saw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

That is just it. If you dress like a typical gangster wanna be dresses like, people are going to treat you as such. That has nothing to do with race. It isn't illegal to discriminate against somebody for the way they dress.

If Apple has african americans working in the store, especially in management, these folks are probably going to have a hard time winning the lawsuit. Even if the recording shows the employee acting in a clearly discriminating manner, Apple wouldn't be liable unless it adopted discriminatory policies. Then again, if the case makes it to a jury, who knows what will happen.

I used to work in a employment law firm where we defended companies accused of work place discrimination. Nine out of ten times such allegations were clearly fabricated. Unfortunately, the employers had to pay tens of thousands of dollars to defend such allegations. Another reason employers probably like doing business in places like China instead.

I'm never someone to say this, but god damn this thread has a lot of racist comments.

"Dressed like a thug" or not, I guarantee you if two white guys of the same ages walked in wearing the exact same clothes, they wouldn't be told to leave. Granted, I dont know the entire story, maybe these guys were hovering around the ipads/iphones suspiciously, maybe they werent. But the supposition in this thread is pretty gross.
post #29 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbella View Post

Do you think they would have been tossed if they were white and dressed that way? Are all black people now required to wear Armani suits in order to not be treated like criminals?

in my neck of the woods, aboriginals are the highly marginal group, but yes, anyone wearing a baggy "dragon" (or whatever brandname) bunnyhug (or, hoodie, as the rest of the world calls them) is subjected to visual prejudice.
post #30 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronTed View Post

No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination. And no, there's no dress code at any Apple Store, unlike IBM. You can dress in any comfortable way you want. And you can speak with any accent. Prejudice is not an excuse for discrimination.

Steve Jobs will never approve of this. He's a Buddhist, and a vegetarian. He's the most humble person you will ever come across. He would never consider himself a God.

All involved employees of the Store should be fired.

Now, I wonder which one of you on AppleInsider is a racist?

Sounds like these two guys have an actual witness right here.

Case closed.
post #31 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkalu View Post

Apple Store cameras should settle this case easily. I look forward to an update on this.

That, and the conversation the suit alleges that they recorded. It seems there should be enough evidence to settle this matter one way or the other pretty easily.

Having said that, some of the specific allegations just don't pass the smell test. It sounds so completely out of character for an Apple Store and an Apple retail employee. I would also wonder how soon the phone recording started. Too early and it sounds a bit like a set-up of some kind. I know that when I am feeling hassled by someone, a cop at a traffic stop for instance, the last thing I think about is pulling out my iPhone to document the situation. I think about it later, but not in the emotional moment. Unless I was expecting trouble, which could be the case for these guys. Anyway, I hope that AI does some follow up on the particulars as I am curious what the evidence will show.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
post #32 of 213
In the Apple stores I have been in there has always been a very mixed group of people - all races, ages, sexes, nationalities. I have never seen anyone turned away or discriminated against. And the Apple staff are usually a diverse cross-section as well. They are always glad to help anyone I have seen.
post #33 of 213
Unless I missed something, it sounds like discrimination based on attire or perceived gang affiliation because of attire, not race. Maybe they need a sign: no shoes, no shirt, asscrack or underpants showing, no service.
post #34 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Real gangsters don't visit the Apple store during business hours of operation

Ah yes, perhaps the little lambs didn't get the memo.
post #35 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Unless I missed something, it sounds like discrimination based on attire or perceived gang affiliation because of attire, not race. Maybe they need a sign: no shoes, no shirt, asscrack or underpants showing, no service.

What? And lose all their plumber customers?
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
post #36 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbella View Post

Do you think they would have been tossed if they were white and dressed that way? Are all black people now required to wear Armani suits in order to not be treated like criminals?

Sorry it is all about appearance and crime stat. If you walk down the street at night and there are black dudes that dressed like that, honestly are you scared? I am and I am not white. Not here to protect AAPLE but if you work in retail you will understand.
post #37 of 213
Don't be surprised if Apple changes their iPhone and iPad product shots to use a dark hand instead of light.

post #38 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronTed View Post

No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination. And no, there's no dress code at any Apple Store, unlike IBM. You can dress in any comfortable way you want. And you can speak with any accent. Prejudice is not an excuse for discrimination.

Steve Jobs will never approve of this. He's a Buddhist, and a vegetarian. He's the most humble person you will ever come across. He would never consider himself a God.

All involved employees of the Store should be fired.

Now, I wonder which one of you on AppleInsider is a racist?

If a better-dressed black person comes in and you throw them out based on color, that's a different issue, but making that judgement based on prior problems doesn't automatically mean racial discrimination. If you don't want to be seen as a thug, don't dress like one - you're going to get that comparison if you do. Walk around in a Klan robe and people will judge you to be a racist, even if you just happen to like the fashion, right?

Prejudging doesn't make you a racist unless the judgement was specifically because of skin color - if 9/10 times (or 1/10 even?) someone dressed that way comes in, hangs out in an aisle, and then runs out of the store, you'd be an idiot NOT to make that judgement and either have security stand with them or ask them to leave.

On a related note, I actually saw a gangsta-dressed black guy running out of the Apple store near me as I walked in one time, and when I turned to the store worker near the entrance and said 'Really?', he told me it happens all the time, and that was usually people grabbing an armful of headphones.

So... I'm certainly not shocked to hear of something like this. And no, it wasn't the store in the story (D.C. area...)
post #39 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

Don't be surprised if Apple changes their iPhone and iPad product shots to use a dark hand instead of light.

They already have a wide diversity of ethnicities in the product shots.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

post #40 of 213
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronTed View Post

No, I don't agree with you. This is truly disgusting! It appalls me that in this age and time, there's still racial discrimination.

Give it a rest, clownboy. The employees saw a couple of guys dressed in BULKY CLOTHING. Clothes you can easily slip shoplifted items into. That's all they need to see. And you know what else? It's APPLE's store. That means they get to decide who to allow inside. Period.

What a self-righteous fool you are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black107 View Post

"Dressed like a thug" or not, I guarantee you if two white guys of the same ages walked in wearing the exact same clothes, they wouldn't be told to leave.

And you'd be 100% wrong. Retail stores are always, and I mean ALWAYS on the lookout for items of clothing that could be used to conceal lifted merch. That's why most stores make you check your bags at the door. Security checks ANYONE - male, female, black, white - wearing such clothing, and they are especially suspicious of people traveling in pairs or groups (where one serves as the lookout).

Another big fat fail, playing the tired 'racist' card.
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