AG: Boston clothing store owner discriminated against customers based on race

BOSTON (WHDH) - The owner of an upscale clothing and shoe store in Boston has been sued for allegedly discriminating against shoppers based on their race, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Wednesday.

An eight-page complaint filed by Healey’s office in Suffolk Superior Court alleges Hicham Ali Hassan, owner of The Tannery in the Back Bay, violated the state’s Public Accommodations Law and Consumer Protection Act by denying service to an African-American man and a Middle Eastern woman shopping in the store.

In December 2017, the man attempting to enter The Tannery to shop about 20 minutes before the store closed was approached by Hassan, who asked him “what’s up brother man?” and prevented him from fully entering the store, according to the complaint.

When the victim asked Hassan why he was denied entry into the store while other white patrons were allowed to enter and shop, the defendant told him that “he did not want [his] kind in [the] store,” according to Healey’s office. Hassan allegedly repeatedly told the victim he was not allowed to shop in the store and implied that he did not have enough money to shop there. He then allegedly directed the victim to the door and told him he didn’t want his money.

In March 2017, Hassan repeatedly asked a customer of Middle Eastern descent where she was from. Instead of helping the woman, who had been trying to ask about a pair of boots, Hassan allegedly told her, among other things, that he does not trust immigrants and “I love Trump! I am glad he is going to get rid of all the immigrants,” the complaint stated.

The victim decided she no longer wanted the boots after hearing the comments. As she was exiting the store, Hassan allegedly shouted at her to get out and that he didn’t “trust [her] people.”

Customers told 7News that they are outraged over Hassan’s alleged racist remarks.

“We should have the ability to shop at places that we want to shop at, even if we just want to look around,” Demetrius Wilson said. “No matter what race. No matter what color.”

A date has not yet been set for the lawsuit to be heard.

Investigators said they have reason to believe that the experiences of the two victims are part of a larger pattern of discrimination. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the AG’s Civil Rights Division at (617) 963-2917 or if they have had similar experiences of discrimination at The Tannery.