NEW YORK — An antitrust lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages and alleging racial targeting was filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday against Macy’s and its parent Federated Department Stores.
In the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, plaintiff Sharon Simmons-Thomas, an African-American woman, said she was stopped by two plainclothes security guards while shopping at the Herald Square store shortly before Christmas. Even though she tried to show them her receipts for purchases made at the store, she said she was detained, handcuffed to a bench and her purchases confiscated.
Macy’s East declined comment about the lawsuit, but said in a statement, “We will not condone discrimination in any form and Macy’s antidiscrimination policy prohibits any customer or groups or customers being singled out in any way for special attention or treatment.”
The legal filing was made on the same day that Federated announced that William Hawthorne 3rd was elected to the newly created position of vice president of diversity and deputy general counsel.
Hawthorne, 47, had served as divisional vice president and assistant general counsel in the company’s regional law department in Atlanta since 1996. He will continue to live in Atlanta, but will maintain offices there and at Federated’s headquarters in Cincinnati.
He assumed his new responsibilities immediately upon appointment. Those responsibilities include corporatewide diversity initiatives including employment, organizational development, work environment, minority vendor relationships, purchasing and business development.
This story first appeared in the May 21, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.