Two former employees who worked at the high-end Bond No. 9 perfume shop have filed a lawsuit alleging that the owner, Laurice Rahme, is a racist who called African-Americans “thieves”.
The owner would use code words/phrases such as, “we need the light bulbs changed,” as a signal to the workers that there was an unwelcome customer.
The Plaintiffs are suing Rahme for violating their civil rights and firing them for objecting to her “pattern of racism against customers and employees.”
One of the Plaintiffs, Robledo of the Bronx, worked for Rahme for nine years, claims her boss wouldn’t let her serve white customers because “my skin is dark.” Robledo, who is Puerto Rican, said she even had to keep quiet about her black Jamaican boyfriend and “tell him to hide when he came to pick me up so (Rahme) wouldn’t see him.”
The last straw, Robledo said, was when Rahme accused her in February of knowing a black customer who was caught shoplifting in another store.
Robledo said when she and Widmann finally complained about the racism in February, Rahme fired them and accused them of stealing $25,000 worth of stock. They deny the accusation.
The shop owner, Rahme, admitted they do use the “light bulbs” code “to protect the girls” when somebody suspicious enters the stores. But she insisted it’s not aimed specifically at black customers, although she did mention that each time her stores were robbed “they were all African-American robbers.”
Walker Harman, an attorney for the two former employees Robledo and Widmann, said the complaint “was dismissed at our request” for administrative reasons so the Plaintiffs could pursue litigation in federal court.