A whistleblowing ex member of staff is claiming that workers at Versace in the US used a code word to alert each other when a black customer came in.
African-American sales assistant Chris Sampino, who has been sacked from the plush store, says that his manager said he had to give a code word when a black person came into the shop in San Francisco by saying D410, which was the code for black shirts.
He said that the manager also told him he could hold up a black shirt when saying the code so customers did not realise he was talking about them. Details have emerged in a lawsuit brought against Versace by Mr Sampino.
Mr Sampino said he clearly found this offensive because of his own heritage, and when he pointed this out, the manager fired him, saying he did not understand luxury.
The former worker, who is a quarter African-American says that after he revealed his own heritage to his boss, he received no further training and was sacked a fortnight later. He claims that he did not receive any training about rest breaks, and therefore did not take any. The former worker also says he was not given login information he needed to access an online database where he could get a print out of his pay slips.
Mr Sampino says he was told he should quit because that would make the paperwork easier to process and that he was never paid his final paycheck.
He has now launched legal action for upaid wages and damages. Versace, meanwhile, is denying the allegations. A spokesperson for the fashion house said that it did not tolerate discrimination of any kind. It added that it was denying the allegations in the suit and it would be inappropriate to comment further while legal action was ongoing.