A man in Wes Des Moines, Iowa says that employees at an Old Navy store racially profiled him by insinuating that he may have stolen the coat he was wearing.
James Conley III told his story on Facebook on Tuesday, explaining that when he attempted to purchase a few hoodies at a local Old Navy, he was asked if he'd also like to purchase the blue bubble coat that he was currently wearing. When Conley tried to explain that he already owned the coat on his back, the store manager claimed that it was common practice to scan customers' clothing if they're wearing Old Navy items, in order to insure that the items were previously purchased.
"Every time I go to this store I have on my same exact winter blue jacket and have never been asked to scan my clothing and the previous 'non-black' customers had on identical apparel as me from old navy but was never asked to scan their clothing," Conley wrote.
The employees insisted on scanning Conley's jacket and even tried to make him pay for it again. It wasn't until he convinced the district manager to check the surveillance tapes that they dropped the issue, but Conley says that despite having proven his innocence, he did not receive an apology from anyone at the store.
Conley's story has been shared over 100k times since he posted it earlier this week and, on Wednesday, Old Navy temporarily closed down the location where the incident took place.
"At Old Navy, and across Gap Inc., we maintain a 'zero means zero' policy and we are actively investigating the situation," the company said in a statement to ABC 9. "We are a company made up of diverse people — from all backgrounds and cultures. We encourage diversity in thought, celebrate diversity in each other and demand tolerance and inclusion, always."
According to the Des Moines Register, Conley has hired two attorneys: Brandon Brown and Alfredo Parrish. During a press conference on Thursday, Conley announced that he is filing a lawsuit against the company.
"It's just a blessing to see this nationwide and hearing my story out," he said.