'Burrito Face': Another High-End NYC Retailer Sued for Racial Discrimination

By Chris Hoenig

First, it was Barneys. Then came a lawsuit against Macy’s. Now, Alexander McQueen is the latest New York City retailer to be sued for racial discrimination.

Moselle Blanco has filed a civil lawsuit against the design house’s West 14th Street boutique, claiming that her boss called her “burrito face,” “taco smoke” and “Goya princess,” which damaged “her ability to close additional sales with her clients.” In the suit, Blanco says that she suffered through “a persistent barrage of offensive comments based on her race and national origin,” including a comment from retail sales manager Max Cantey that “she had greasy hands like a Mexican and that he did not want any product to ‘get messy.'”

Blanco says that after she complained to management, Cantey falsely accused her of stealing merchandise, snorting cocaine in the store’s bathroom and getting drunk on the job. She also alleges that he began maliciously trying to hurt her sales numbers.

Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld, is among the high-end clientele that Blanco claims to have maintained relationships with. It was Blanco’s failure to retrieve a dress that had been loaned to Seinfeld that led to Blanco’s firing in September 2010 after 10 years with the company.

The company emailed the following statement to Huffington Post: “Alexander McQueen is committed to equality in the workplace, and we are proud of our diverse employee base. We take any allegations of this nature seriously and will always investigate them thoroughly, but we will not comment on individual cases.”

In July, a 22-year-old former security guard from Gabon filed an EEOC complaint against the store, claiming he had to be hospitalized for depression and anxiety after being subjected to racial taunting at work. Othman Ibela said that salespeople “repeatedly made jokes about me running nude in Africa with a spear in my hand” and that a manager made fun of his accent and harassed him by asking “why Muslims were always killing people.”

“They attacked me again and again,” Ibela added. “I wanted to kill them and kill myself. Then everybody would be a loser.”

He also claimed that the racist discrimination and profiling extended to Black customers, who were ignored by sales staff at the store.

Earlier this month, a $4 million lawsuit was filed against Barclays Center in Brooklyn by three men who say they were discriminated against because they are Black. The trio say they are the only Black people to have a lease on a luxury suite at the basketball arena and that they are ignored by staff, served cold food after hours of waiting and are overcharged, and that their box is rarely cleaned. They allege that a security team barged into a suite they thought the three men were in and forced the occupants to get on the floor, all solely out of racist suspicions they had about the three ticketholders.

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