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Old Navy Employees Say Workers of Color were Replaced by White Workers for 'Queer Eye' Episode

Friday Aug 30, 2019
From left to right: Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness and Karamo Brown
From left to right: Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness and Karamo Brown  (Source:Christopher Smith/Netflix)

Two employees of color at an Old Navy store in Philadelphia are claiming that the company hid them and other workers of color and brought in white employees for a taping of an upcoming episode of Netflix's "Queer Eye," NBC News reports.

Monae Alvarado, who has worked at the Old Navy location in the Center City area of the city since 2018, said in a Facebook post, which has since gone viral, that she and most of her coworkers worked overnight last Tuesday to make the store presentable as it was to be featured in a taping for "Queer Eye."

She said when she arrived to the store on August 21 at 7 a.m. she was shocked to find that 10 to 15 white employees from other stores in the area were brought in. Alvarado, who fulfills online orders, said she was instructed by a manager to work on the second floor and away from the cameras.

"I didn't expect them to bring in other people from other Old Navy stores and then have us pushed to the back," Alvarado, who is of Cambodian descent, told NBC News. She added that she tried to complete online purchases on the first floor but was again told to go to the second floor.

"Then my manager called me over and told me they didn't want me in the front," she said "I don't know if it was her boss or production."

Marjorie Williams, who also works at the Old Navy at the Center City location, said the entire staff was "whitewashed."

"Our staff is 98 percent African American and to come in the morning of filming to see so many white people, I was in shock," Williams told NBC News. She added that three of the four African American workers who were there during the "Queer Eye" taping were in the back. The other African American employee, who is a manager, was "front and center," she claimed.

"Only the whites signed waivers to be filmed," Williams said. "They did not want us anywhere near the production."

Old Navy has reacted to the claims, saying the company "would never select employees to participate — or not — based on race" and that it was "proud to work" with "Queer Eye" and have a store manager appear on camera.

"We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots," the company said in a statement. "These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population."

"Queer Eye" has been filming its fifth season in Philadelphia. Netflix said the show's hosts and producers did not know or influence the staffing at the Old Navy that was filmed. Netflix also said an African American manager was featured on the reality show.

"While filming, production featured one female employee, an African American manager, who completed an on-camera styling consultation and also served as a point of contact for our crew," Netflix said.

"Queer Eye" star Tan France responded to Alvarado's post, saying he had no idea there was anything wrong, Jezebel notes.

"I don't know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what I can tell you is that there [is] no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC to the back," he wrote. "I should also mention that I had one person join me on camera, from Old Navy. She was African American. This is the last I will say on this matter."

Alvarado's post has been shared over 2,400 times. Philadelphia Magazine was the first to report the news.

Read Alvarado's post below.


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