Looks like shiny rings and things aren’t all that come wrapped up in those pretty blue boxes from Tiffany & Co.
Out of about 200 management positions available with the fine jewelry retailer, only one of them is held by a black person. And he is now suing the company against its “systemic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination,” reports the New York Times.
Michael McClure, a group director of two Tiffany stores in Texas, filed a federal lawsuit against his employer last week after being placed on “warning for termination” earlier this spring. According to his complaint, though, he had received consistently positive performance reviews and increased sales since he began working there back in 1993.
But after the company went under new management last fall, things changed:
“Last fall, after management changes at the company, Anthony Ledru, the new senior vice president for North America at the time, asked store and group directors to send their photographs. The request said Mr. Ledru was requesting the pictures ‘as a result of Anthony’s extensive market travels and meeting numerous people along the way.’”
Shortly after that, McClure received the warning, along with an anonymous letter stating Ledru was surprised to learn that “a black man is representing the Tiffany brand.” In his lawsuit, he claims the review reflects an “apparent agenda to get rid of him from the start and racial bias at Tiffany.”
Tiffany denies any bias, saying in a statement:
“The lawsuit allegations are completely without merit, and the many mischaracterizations will be addressed through the legal process. We welcome and value diversity in all forms and emphasize personal accountability and professionalism in a respectful and fair work environment.”