Hold On To That Little Blue Box: Tiffany & Company Sued For Racial Bias

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It looks like the jewelry brand, Tiffany & Company, may not be as innocent as their little blue boxes suggest.

Michael McClure, a group director for jewelry retailer Tiffany & Company, is suing the company for racial discrimination. According to The New York Times in a complaint that McClure filed, he is the only African American employee allowed to represent Tiffany & Co. publicly and, through a “systemic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination,” the brand demonstrates a racial bias.

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A rep for Tiffany responded and denied these claims. “The lawsuit allegations are completely without merit, and the many mischaracterizations will be addressed through the legal process,” the statement read. “We welcome and value diversity in all forms and emphasize personal accountability and professionalism in a respectful and fair work environment.”

McClure, who has worked for Tiffany since 1993, received consecutive positive reviews throughout his tenure until management changes last Fall. Last year, the new senior vice president of the company, Anthony Ledru, requested pictures “as a result of Anthony’s extensive market travels and meeting numerous people along the way.” A few weeks later, McClure received a negative performance from management and was given a termination warning. His warning was issued, in spite of the 15-percent increase of sales at McClure’s stores. He never received a bonus for the improvement in sales either.

To make matters worse, Ledru allegedly made a questionable remark regarding McClure after a market visit. McClure says he received a letter — during two internal investigations that exposed the senior vice president. “Shortly after Anthony Ledru visited your market he made a comment to a small group of male market vice presidents that I think you should be made aware of,” the letter read. “In reference to you (McClure), he expressed a surprise that ‘a black man is representing the Tiffany brand.’ ”

No matter how this case turns out in court, this can’t be a good look for Tiffany, especially if more allegations from the company surface. It’s crazy how retailers still don’t grasp that any form of racial discrimination will hurt their image. Must we bring up the discrimination cases surrounding Barneys? Time will only tell how this will affect the jewelry company.

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