Lawsuit accuses Broadway Apple Store employees of racial discrimination

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 212
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 212
    scotty321scotty321 Posts: 313member
    I highly doubt these 2 people were innocently shopping for headphones.
  • Reply 3 of 212
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Real gangsters don't visit the Apple store during business hours of operation
  • Reply 4 of 212
    nomadmacnomadmac Posts: 95member
    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?
  • Reply 5 of 212
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,214member
    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?
  • Reply 6 of 212
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    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
  • Reply 7 of 212
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 212
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,137member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 212
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 212
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    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?



  • Reply 11 of 212
    irontedironted Posts: 129member
    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?
  • Reply 12 of 212
    patranuspatranus Posts: 366member
    404 - Racial discrimination not found.
  • Reply 13 of 212
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,301member
    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?
  • Reply 14 of 212
    newbeenewbee Posts: 2,055member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 212
    nkalunkalu Posts: 315member
    Apple Store cameras should settle this case easily. I look forward to an update on this.
  • Reply 16 of 212
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 212
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,540member
    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?
  • Reply 18 of 212
    ashleyashley Posts: 25member
    This sounds like total BS, just wanting a payoff
  • Reply 19 of 212
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,400member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 212
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member
    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."
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