Anissa Brown, a former Sally Beauty Supply sales associate, filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against the company after a store manager admitted to racially profiling African Americans. The manager would signal workers whenever an African American customer entered the store. According to the lawsuit, Anissa Brown reported the racial profiling to HR and a regional manager on multiple occasions, but no action was taken.
Brown, an African American woman, alleges, in a complaint filed by ILG Legal Office, P.C. in the District Court for the Northern District of California, that she was retaliated against after reporting the store manager’s racial bias. Brown claims that African American customers would tell her that the manager was treating them differently and following them around the store. On one occasion, the store manager allegedly admitted to following an African American customer around the store because she suspected her of stealing merchandise, claiming that the customer was “putting items in her basket too fast.” In fact, the customer was a professional hairdresser who purchased hundreds of dollars’ worth of products.
The store manager’s bias was not limited just to customers. The manager assumed Anissa Brown was Hispanic; once she learned Brown was African American, Brown allegedly became a target for her prejudice. The manager would yell at and berate Brown to such an extent that customers and co-workers complained about the mistreatment. Brown also endured offensive comments, such as that she was “ghetto.”
Sally Beauty Supply did not discipline or terminate the manager even after Brown contacted HR and a regional manager multiple times. During one HR meeting, the store manager, after being directly asked by HR personnel, allegedly admitted to racially profiling African Americans. Brown claims to have also discovered that the manager was previously fired from the company for similar behavior but was then re-hired.
Brown alleges that her work hours were reduced and that she was temporarily removed from the work schedule after reporting the manager’s discriminatory actions. Brown seeks damages for discrimination and harassment, retaliation, constructive discharge, and emotional distress, as well as improved anti-discrimination training.
The case is Brown v. Sally Beauty Supply LLC, number 3:21-cv-01350 in the Northern District of California, and is assigned to Judge Donna Ryu. Brown is represented by Stephen Noel Ilg and George L. Lin of ILG Legal Office P.C (www.ilglegal.com).