Apple store employees told two men to leave the premises because they were black, according to a lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in February in New York Supreme Court because damages exceeded the jurisdictional amounts of all lower courts, made news when it was recently moved to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
On Dec. 9, 2010, plaintiffs Brian Johnston, 34, and Nile Charles, 25, went to the Apple store at 1981 Broadway in New York to purchase headphones.
Before the two black men — clad in hooded sweaters and saggy jeans — could make their purchase, a middle-aged white male, an Apple store employee, told them to turn around and keep it moving, according to the lawsuit.
“And before you say I’m racially discriminating against you, let me stop you,” the Apple store employee allegedly said. “I am discriminating against you, I don’t want ‘your kind’ hanging out in the store.”
The racist tirade was so surreal that the plaintiffs whipped out their cell phones in order to capture the moment, and that’s when yet another white Apple store employee approached them and said, “Now you have to go,” according to the lawsuit.
Johnston and Charles claim that employee chimed in, “If you want to know why, it’s because I said so. Consider me God! You have to go.”
The lawsuit states that the men approached a security guard and requested to speak to a manager, but the guard ignored them; when the men located a manager on their own, that manager instructed the security guard to call the police.
The complaint reads: “In order to further harass, degrade, humiliate, and discriminate against Plaintiffs, the manager asked Defendant’s Head of Security to call 911. “Defendant interfered with Plaintiffs right to purchase personal property because of their race.”
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages, due to ongoing “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses.”
The lawsuit accuses Apple of discrimination under both New York and federal civil rights laws.