Two Black Men Suing Manhattan Apple Store For Racial Discrimination

News

GangStarr Girl / May 26, 2011

Via Bossip: Two black men are accusing Apple of racial discrimination following an incident that happened in December at the Upper West Side Apple Store. Thirtyfour-year-old Brian Johnston and 25-year-old Nile Charles have filed suit against Apple, Inc claiming that on December 9, 2010 they visited the Apple store at 1981 Broadway around 3:20 pm to purchase headphones. The lawsuit makes note that Charles and Johnston, who are both black, were wearing “baggy jeans and large sweaters with hoods” when they were approached to an Apple employee, a white male, approximately 6-foot-2 and 225 and in his 50s.

According to the suit, the Apple employee confronted the customers in an “intimidating fashion,” invading their “personal space,” and said to them, “You know the deal. You know the deal.”

The employee then allegedly told Johnston and Charles they had to leave the store unless they planned to make a purchase or see a Mac Specialist, but before they could respond, he 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.”

The plaintiffs claim they were “shocked and humiliated” by the alleged experience. They were reportedly using their cell phones to record the incident when they allege that 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, but instead of sympathizing, the manager asked the store’s head of security to call 911.

“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.”

Johnston and Charles filed their lawsuit against Apple, Inc. in February in New York Supreme Court. The filing was made public 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.”

It’s sad that people still think they can behave this way in 2011. Good thing the men have some of this on camera. Hopefully their lawsuit proves victorious, then maybe that store location will rethink how they treat people.