Some Old Navy employees in Philadelphia are claiming they were hidden during a recent taping of the Netflix hit show Queer Eye because of their race.
According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, Monae Alvarado claims that earlier this month, management from the Center City Philly store location hid Black and Latino employees away from the makeover show’s cameras that were filming an upcoming episode. Alvarado accused the store of bringing 10 white employees from another store over to their store to highlight in the background.
“So they were filming Queer eye (not queer as folk) at my job (Old Navy in Center City Philadelphia) and at my job is nothing but people of color,” she wrote on her Facebook page on August 21.
“Most of us did an overnight to help make the store look beautiful. Today they brought all these workers from other [stores] around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white. They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store. The shade I tell you.”
She added, “Old Navy is supposed to be a company that accepts ethnic diversity and they should show it,” she wrote. “Unfortunately pushing their non-white employees out of sight for a whitewashed TV publicity show is not accepting ethnic diversity but it is just the opposite: prejudice, racism, and discrimination.”
“I felt betrayed by the company,” Monae Alvarado told NBC10. “I felt like a nobody to them.”
Two other Old Navy employees at the time of the taping confirmed Alvarado’s allegations.
“Most of us worked additional overnights to make the store look top-notch,” said another Old Navy employee of color, who asked not to be named, told Philadelphia Magazine. “Corporate brought in new clothes, signs, and repainted parts of the store. We had to hide all tags under clothes and fold everything a certain way to make the place look spotless.
“We were under the impression from our managers that we would be filmed and to remain professional. I was super-excited up until the day of and a random group of white folks came in to replace us at our own store.”
Another anonymous employee added they also weren’t asked to sign to consent forms, which automatically eliminated them from being filmed.
“I felt the racism the moment I was being told by managers to go to sections of the store that I usually don’t work around,” another employee of color said. “It became clear that we weren’t going to be filmed because we hadn’t been asked to sign consent forms, and they made it a point to keep us as far away from the cameras as possible. Most of the staff and managers at our store location are Black.”
Of course, Old Navy management denies the workers’ claims of racial bias.
“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging,” the spokesperson wrote.
“We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera. We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots. These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population. We would never select employees to participate – or not – based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”
Meanwhile, Netlfix officials claimed a Black woman was featured in one of the episode’s segment.
“During the filming of Queer Eye season 5, the production team filmed in a Philadelphia-based Old Navy last Wednesday, August 21,” a spokesperson for Netflix said in an email to Philadelphia magazine. “Production featured one employee from the retail store, an African American woman, in the segment.”
Yet, one employee told Philly Mag, they weren’t trying to hear that.
“Having one black person featured on the show when most of us already work there full time is a slap in the face. They would all be better off saying they didn’t want a bunch of black people on their show because they thought it would be ghetto. I’ve seen Queer Eye — they don’t have too many of us on there like that.”