'Anyone Who Looks Black or Urban': Tales of Zara's Racial Profiling


According to a new report, Zara—the “fast fashion” clothing company that’s recently come into the spotlight after its general counsel sued for discrimination and retaliation—has a deeply-embedded culture of racial profiling. Surprise, surprise.

The survey, which was conducted by the Center for Popular Democracy, interviewed employees at Zara’s various New York City locations and found, first, that conditions in the stores themselves are distinctly unequal.

Employees of color are reportedly twice as dissatisfied with their hours as white employees and face more scrutiny from their bosses. They also report that they are much less likely to be promoted than their white-skinned counterparts.

The discriminatory policies apparently extend to customers as well. Many employees said they had been taught to refer to potential shoplifters as “special orders”—a classification that would result in close surveillance by a store manager.

From the report:

Of those who responded, 46 percent noted that Black customers were called special orders “Always” or “Often,” compared to 14 percent regarding Latino customers and only 7 percent for white customers. The majority of employees believe that Black customers are coded as potential thieves at a higher rate than white customers. Additionally, 36.4 percent of employees surveyed believe that Black and Latino customers are discriminated against at a higher rate than white customers. Employees stated that special orders are identified by “dressing a certain way” and are “mostly African-American.” Special orders were also defined as “Anyone who looks Black, not put together or urban.”

“Zara USA vehemently refutes the claims contained in the Center for Popular Democracy report, which was prepared with ulterior motives and not because of any actual discrimination or mistreatment,” a Zara spokesperson said in a statement. “It fails to follow an acceptable methodology for the conduct of a credible objective survey on workplace practices, and instead appears to have taken an approach to achieve a predetermined result, which was to discredit Zara.”

Let’s all remember that this was the same brand that released these tasteful concentration camp uniforms 4 kidz. Take Zara’s word for what it’s worth.

Image via Getty

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