73-year-old Omar Amin was shopping for his grandchildren in a Scottsdale, Arizona Barnes & Noble store when he was asked to leave by an employee. The employee in charge of removing Amin told him that a female shopper had complained about him sitting in the children’s area of the store by himself talking on the phone.
Amin, who is a native of Egypt and director of the Parasitology Center in Scottsdale, wrote a formal complaint to Barnes & Noble’s corporate office explaining that, “I did not break any rules, there was no sign posted that said men are not allowed in the children’s book area.”
Barnes & Noble at first stood by their employee’s decision, then released a public statement of apology. But Amin, who has not received a response to his complaint of gender discrimination, is considering legal action.
If it were a woman in the children’s section, would she have been treated the same way? And ten or twenty years ago, would anyone have questioned a grandfatherly type being in a children’s bookstore? Did Barnes & Noble overreact, or were they right to be protective of other customers who were concerned by Amin’s presence? Is it tough out there for a man?
Lisa Wade, Ph.D, professor of sociology at Occidental College and author of the blog Sociological Images