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Former Versace employee sues company over security codes targeting black people

Posted at 7:33 AM, Dec 27, 2016

A former Versace employee in California filed a lawsuit claiming the company has a secret security code alerting workers when an African American enters the store.

The plaintiff, 23-year-old Christopher Sampino claims he was wrongfully fired from the Pleasanton, California Versace location after a manager revealed the security practice to him during a training shift, according to a report by TMZ.

A copy of the lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in Alameda County outlines the exchange between Sampino and his manager:

During Plaintiff's second shift, a training manager asked Plaintiff if he knew about the "D410 Code." The manager instructed the Plaintiff to say "D410" in a casual manner when a black person entered the store. The manager informed Plaintiff that this code is used to alert co-workers that "a black person is in the store."

The manager also told Plaintiff that he could "hold a black shirt" when using the code "so that they don't know what you're talking about." The manager then showed a clothing tag to Plaintiff and informed him, "D410 is on all black clothing."

The Plaintiff responded by telling the manager, "You know that I'm African American?" Plaintiff said the manager seemed surprised by Plaintiff's response.

Following that exchange, Sampino claims he did not receive proper training regarding rest breaks and also did not receive information needed to log in to receive pay stubs, according to the lawsuit. On Oct. 1, Sampino was fired from the store because he "[doesn't] understand luxury," and because he "[doesn't] know the luxury life," the lawsuit claims.

Sampino also said the company told him to quit because "that would make the paperwork easier."

In addition to wrongful termination, Sampino is also suing Versace for failure to compensate for all hours worked, failure to provide meal and rest periods, failure to maintain accurate records, failure to furnish wage and hour statements, failure to pay final wages on time, race discrimination and harassment, failure to prevent and investigate discrimination and harassment and unfair business practices.

As a class-action lawsuit, Sampino filed the case on behalf of himself and anyone else who may have experienced a similar situation.

"Versace believes strongly in equal opportunity, as an employer and a retailer, " told CNN in a statement. We do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or any other characteristic protected by our civil rights laws. We have denied the allegations in this suit, and we will not comment further concerning pending litigation," said the statement.

A case status conference is scheduled for March 21.