A former Target employee has filed a lawsuit against the retail giant, claiming he suffered racial discrimination and was forced to wear a nametag with a “whitewashed” version of his name.
Jose Diaz, 18, claims he was subjected to discrimination and retaliation by his supervisors during his brief stint working at the Target store in Freeport, New York, between October and November 2018.
According to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Central Islip, Diaz was told by one of his supervisors that he should wear a “Jonathan” nametag while working, instead of his real name.
Diaz was allegedly told that the name Jose “does not ‘fit’ the predominantly white neighborhood demographics and his birth name would incite fear and uneasiness in customers.”
According to a 2018 Census, Freeport’s population is 40.5 percent white and 42.9 percent Hispanic or Latino.
Diaz, a New York resident of El Salvadoran descent, said he was insulted by the suggestion and objected to wearing the Jonathan nametag. “To him, it was as if [Target] wanted to hide his Hispanic ethnicity and Latino heritage.”
Diaz claimed he was constantly referred to as “Jonathan” during the first two weeks of working at the Target store. On October 15, 2018, he complained to another supervisor about wearing the Jonathan nametag. The supervisor, named only as Christina in the lawsuit, allegedly told Diaz that “he could easily quit if he does not like his nametag.”
The file alleges: “It was clear to [Diaz] that in order to continue working for [Target], he had to acquiesce to being called by a non-Hispanic sounding/ethnic name.”
Diaz claims that after he made a complaint about being referred to as a “whitewashed version of his name” he was immediately subjected to a “retaliatory hostile work environment.”
He claims he was given no guidance or training on his duties and responsibilities despite being a new employee.
“The lack of instruction and guidance made it more difficult for Plaintiff to learn his job and an easy target for termination,” the lawsuit adds. Diaz was eventually fired from his job on November 14, 2018.
Five days later, Diaz made a complaint to Target’s human resources department. Diaz alleges that no formal investigation or disciplinary action was taken after he brought up his complaint.
Diaz is now seeking punitive damages against Target after claiming he was “callously removed from his employment for discriminatory and retaliatory reasons.”
Diaz also states he was “extremely humiliated, degraded, victimized, and embarrassed” during his time at Target.
Target have denied the allegations stemming from Diaz‘s lawsuit.
In a statement, Target spokeswoman Danielle Schumann told Newsday: “Target has a longstanding commitment to building diverse teams and creating a work environment where all differences are welcomed and valued.
“We’re aware of the lawsuit and have been in close communication with Mr Diaz for several months about his alleged claims. We thoroughly investigated and found no evidence of team members requesting or requiring Mr Diaz to wear a name tag with a name other than his own.”