The Swiss Tourism Board apologized to Oprah Winfrey following an incident of alleged racism. According to the Chicago Sun-Times (8.9.13), Winfrey was in Zurich and shopping at a luxury store when she asked to see a handbag. The shop assistant refused to let her see the bag, telling her she would “not be able to afford it,” Winfrey quoted the shop assistant as saying. After the incident made international headlines, the shop denied any racism was intended. To civil rights violation lawyer David Perecman, the story, as told by Oprah, sounded like a racist incident.
Winfrey said she asked to see the bag more than once, but the clerk repeatedly refused to show it to her, said the Chicago Sun-Times. The handbag at the center of the incident is a $38,000 crocodile-leather Tom Ford design. Winfrey, one of the most famous television personalities and wealthiest women in America, can afford the bag.
“Switzerland chose not to stay neutral over the incident of perceived racism. Apparently it felt embarrassed and rightly so,” said David Perecman, a civil rights violation lawyer in New York for over 30 years. “Racism is embarrassing and certainly does not go unnoticed.”
The boutique owner also apologized to Oprah, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
While Winfrey did not publically say that she was discriminated against, the reported incident has sparked a lot of debate on the Internet. While racial discrimination is wrong, attorneys at The Perecman Firm understand that it is a daily reality for many people.
“Erroneous perception sparked an international controversy. The incident was also a sad reminder that discrimination is alive and well,” said Perecman.
“The store assistant deserved to lose what may have been a very big commission,” he added.
The Chicago Sun-Times article cited is “Swiss tourism officials, boutique owner apologize to Oprah for purse debacle.”
Individuals who believe they have been victims of a New York civil rights violation, including discrimination in the workplace or race profiling can contact The Perecman Firm at 212-977-7033.