- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Owner of the Tannery Banned from Retail Business in Massachusetts, Required to Compensate Victims He Discriminated Against under Settlement with AG’s Office
BOSTON — The former owner and manager of a now-closed shoe and clothing store in Boston’s Back Bay is permanently banned from operating a retail business in Massachusetts and is required to pay up to $220,000 in restitution and funds for anti-discrimination and racial justice programs, settling allegations that he discriminated against shoppers because of their race, national origin, and immigration status, under a settlement reached with Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office.
The consent judgment, filed and entered in Suffolk Superior Court this week, settles a July 2018 lawsuit, which was amended in Sept. 2018, filed by AG Healey’s Office against Hicham Ali Hassan (a/k/a Sam Hassan), the former owner and manager of The Tannery, alleging that he violated the state’s Public Accommodations Law and Consumer Protection Act by engaging in a pattern of discriminatory behavior that included making derogatory comments and denying service to customers based on their actual or perceived race, national origin, or immigration status.
“We have strong laws in Massachusetts to put an end to the kind of unlawful, unacceptable, and racist behavior that this business owner blatantly displayed in his store,” AG Healey said. “This settlement provides relief to the customers that were harmed and makes clear that everyone should be welcome and respected in businesses across our state.”
According to the complaint, Hassan’s pattern of discrimination included a 2017 incident in which he stopped a Black customer at the door, implied that he did not have enough money to shop at The Tannery and told him that “he did not want [his] kind in [the] store.” Hassan then directed the customer to leave, telling him to shop elsewhere. In another incident described in the complaint, Hassan stopped a customer of Syrian descent, began speaking to her in a mock Arabic accent, and told her “Get out of here. I don’t have anything for you here.” The AG’s Office alleges that the experiences of these two victims are examples of a larger pattern of Hassan’s discriminatory treatment of certain customers.
Under the terms of the AG’s settlement, Hassan is prevented from reopening the Tannery or operating any other place of public accommodation in Massachusetts. The settlement also requires him to pay up to $220,000, of which $110,000 is suspended to secure compliance with the terms of the settlement. The funds will be used by the AG’s Office to pay restitution to victims and to fund programs or to provide other resources intended to combat discrimination and promote equity and inclusion in the state. Failure to comply with the terms of the consent judgment could result in Hassan being held in criminal or civil contempt of court.
The Massachusetts Public Accommodations Law makes it unlawful for any business that solicits or accepts the patronage of the general public to treat customers differently on the basis of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The law prohibits discrimination with respect to both admission into, and treatment within, places of public accommodation. The state Consumer Protection Law prohibits unfair or deceptive conduct in trade or commerce.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact the AG’s Civil Rights Division at (617) 963-2917 or www.mass.gov/ago/civilrightscomplaint if they have experienced discrimination at a place of public accommodation based on their race, national origin, immigration status, or any other protected characteristic.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Burke of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Investigator Ciara Tran, of AG Healey’s Civil Investigations Division.