The Owner of The Tannery Is Accused of Discrimination

Sam Hassan allegedly harassed a black man and Middle Eastern woman at the upscale Boston clothing store.

Photo by Alex Lau

Sam Hassan, owner of the upscale Boston shoe store The Tannery, has been accused by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office of discrimination on at least two occasions targeting people of color.

Healey on Wednesday announced her office has filed a complaint against the Back Bay retailer on behalf of two would-be customers, who allege that Hassan made comments about their ethnicity before denying them service, in apparent violation of violated the state’s Public Accommodations Law and Consumer Protection Act. The suit seeks civil penalties for Hassan and compensatory damages for the alleged victims.

In one case from December, her office alleges, Hassan approached a black man who entered the Boylston Street store 20 minutes before closing, greeted him by asking, “what’s up brother man?” and then denied him entry. When he complained, the complaint says, Hassan replied that “he did not want [his] kind in [the] store.”

On another occasion, in March of 2017, Hassan allegedly harassed a Middle Eastern woman, repeatedly asking what country she came from. The complaint alleges that the woman took offense when Hassan allegedly said to her, “I love Trump! I am glad he is going to get rid of all the immigrants,” and that when she decided to leave the store he shouted that he didn’t “trust [her] people.”

“This kind of discrimination has no place in Massachusetts,” Healey, whose office set up a special hotline for discrimination shortly after the 2016 election, said in a statement. “My office will take action to protect members of the public from businesses that engage in discriminatory conduct, which harms both individual victims and the entire community.”

The statement adds that her office “has reason to believe that the experiences of the two victims are part of a larger pattern of discrimination” and that anyone else who may have been victimized at The Tannery is asked contact the AG’s Civil Rights Division at (617) 963-2917 or

A woman who answered the phone at The Tannery’s Back Bay store on Wednesday declined to comment on the allegations.