A group director for the jewelry retailer Tiffany & Company sued the company in federal court on Thursday, accusing his employer of a “systemic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination.”
According to the complaint, of the more than 200 management positions that represent Tiffany to the public, a range that includes executive officers, store directors and members of the board of directors, only one is held by an African-American employee: Michael McClure, the plaintiff in this lawsuit.
Robert D. Kraus, the lawyer representing Mr. McClure, says that pattern, along with his client’s experience, demonstrates “racial bias in the belief, conscious or otherwise, that African-Americans are not appropriate ambassadors for the iconic, luxurious and sophisticated Tiffany brand.”
In a statement, Tiffany denied Mr. McClure’s claims.
“The lawsuit allegations are completely without merit, and the many mischaracterizations will be addressed through the legal process,” the statement said. “We welcome and value diversity in all forms and emphasize personal accountability and professionalism in a respectful and fair work environment.”
Mr. McClure is employed as a group director, someone with responsibility for more than one store, and has worked at Tiffany since 1993, according to the complaint. It notes that he had received consistently positive performance reviews.
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.”
Source: New York Times | ELIZABETH A. HARRIS