South Florida

Man Claims Discrimination at Bal Harbour Department Store

A man is accusing high-end retailer Neiman Marcus of discrimination after an employee at a South Florida store called the police on him for sitting in the store.

"This is embarrassing, this is so embarrassing in this day and age," Sniders Jean-Jacques said.

Browsing at a high-end department store will never be the same for Jean-Jacques. The 28-year-old, who works as a driver for professional athletes, says that on April 29 while he was waiting for his clients to finish shopping, a Neiman Marcus employee at the Bal Harbour Shops called the cops on him.

"It was bizarre to me that four police officers were walking me out of the store that I didn't commit a crime," he said.

NBC 6 reached out to Neiman Marcus for comment but received no response.

According to a police incident report, Jean-Jacques, who was wearing a Prada suit, had been suspiciously wandering around precious jewelry worth millions.

But Jean-Jacques said he was on his cell phone, speaking with a friend about a specific cologne to buy when the cops approached him and asked to talk to him outside.

"He walked me outside, he was like 'they called us because they didn't feel comfortable with you being close to the'...the exact word he used was 'million dollar jewelry department, special jewelry department,' and he was like 'they didn't feel comfortable with you there, you have to leave the premises,'" Jean-Jacques said.

Jean-Jacques has hired attorney Joseph Fazio. They said they plan to file a complaint with the Bal Harbour Police Department alleging the incident report covers up that Jean-Jacques was forcibly removed.

"The Neiman Marcus department store at Bal Harbour obviously doesn't want black men near its fine jewelry but beyond that the Bal Harbour Police Department doesn't want a black man in a shopping center and those things can't be able to exist in 2016 in America," Fazio said.

Police Chief Mark Overton said the report was accurate. He added that after looking at the store's surveillance video, he was pleased with his officers' actions.

"He can have his opinion, he's entitled to his opinion but he's not entitled to his own facts," Overton said. "I was very proud of the professionalism I saw displayed and how they handled the call."

Meanwhile, Jean-Jacques said an official with Neiman Marcus offered him $500 and lunch for two on them but he said that won't do.

"My objective, to make sure this never happens to another black person," he said.

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