A Black man in Iowa is alleging an Old Navy store racially profiled him on Tuesday and accused him of attempting to steal a jacket he wore to the store.
In a Facebook post, James Conley III, 29, detailed his encounter with the employees of the Jordan Creek Town Center location, reported The Des Moines Register.
"I was accused that I didn't pay for my blue bubble jacket that I got for Christmas that I wore into the store,” Conley wrote in the post.
"As I was checking out to purchase some hoodies, I was asked if I wanted to also purchase the jacket that I was wearing."
Conley explained that he owned the jacket and wore it into the store, yet the employees still asked to scan the tag of the clothing to make sure it was purchased. The Old Navy staff then asked Conley to re-purchase the clothing item, according to his Facebook post.
According to Conley, the store manager "was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I was a Black male."
"He says 'anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customer's clothing to ensure that it was previously purchased. Where do they do that at?" his post continued. "Every time I go to this store I have on my same exact winter blue jacket and have never been asked to scan my clothing and the previous 'non-black' customers had on identical apparel as me from Old Navy but was never asked to scan their clothing.”
Although it’s unclear if an item tag, which contains the size and wash instructions, can be traced to a purchase, the store manager was adamant about their “policy.” Eventually, the manager reviewed the surveillance footage and confirmed Conley’s account.
"Once she confirmed that I was telling the truth (after watching the tape) she never came back out to apologize to me nor did the store manager."
Conley is being represented by Brandon Brown and Alfredo Parrish of the Parrish Kruidenier law firm in Des Moines, according to The Register.
"We have already sent out preservation demand letters and we plan on investigating into this case," Brown told The Register.
On Wednesday, a sign was placed on the doors of the Old Navy location saying the store was temporarily closed, yet it re-opened on Thursday.
"Gap is committed to ensuring that all shoppers, guests, and employees are treated with respect and dignity and are free from unreasonable searches, profiling, and discrimination of any kind in our store," the document reads. "Gap strictly prohibits unreasonable searches and/or the profiling of customers by any employee. The participation by employees in such activities or the failure to report such instances of which they have knowledge is a violation of company policy.
"Employees who violate the company’s prohibition on profiling will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment."