Employees of Color Say Old Navy Brought in White Staff for ‘Queer Eye’ Taping

Three employees from an Old Navy store in Philadelphia say workers of color were kept in the background while the company brought in white employees from the national retailer’s other locations for filming an episode of Netflix’s series “Queer Eye.”

On August 21, Monae Alvarado, who works at the Center City Old Navy in Philadelphia, wrote a Facebook post alleging she and other co-workers of color were told to stand in the back. Alavardo’s post garnered over 2,000 shares on Facebook.

“So they were filming Queer eye (not queer as folk) at my job (Old Navy in Center City Philadelphia) and at my job is nothing but people of color. Most of us did an overnight to help make the store look beautiful,” the post read. “Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white. They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store. The shade I tell you.”

Alvarado told Philadelphia magazine that she has worked at the Center City location for over a year as the ship-to-store lead. She and two other employees of color witnessed about ten white Old Navy employees from other stores in the area participate in filming an episode for the fifth season of “Queer Eye.” Old Navy managers involved in the show’s production allegedly told Alvarado to go to the back of the store.

“About six of my fellow co-workers were there, and we were shooed away from the camera as they filmed with these outside employees, who came from West Chester, Mount Pocono, and New Jersey,” Alvarado told the publication.

“It immediately seemed odd to me that they were being used to tape at our store location when we already have a diverse group of workers who had been preparing for ‘Queer Eye’ to come for nearly a week.”

In a second Facebook post on August 26, Alvarado wrote that she tried to get on the floor “but was shooed away.”

“They didn’t want us to move around while they were in the store filming. Even if my co-workers don't mind, Old Navy is supposed to be a company that accepts ethnic diversity and they should show it,” Alvarado wrote. “Unfortunately pushing their non-white employees out of sight for a white washed TV publicity show is not accepting ethnic diversity but it is just the opposite: prejudice, racism and discrimination.”

After the post went viral, “Queer Eye” cast member Tan France responded to Alavardo’s original Facebook post.

“I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what I can tell you is that there no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC to the back,” France wrote on Facebook. “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.”

In a statement to Philadelphia magazine, a Netflix spokesperson confirmed what France wrote, saying the show featured a Black employee.

“During the filming of ‘Queer Eye’ season 5, the production team filmed in a Philadelphia-based Old Navy last Wednesday, August 21,” a Netflix spokesperson said in an email to Philadelphia magazine. “Production featured one employee from the retail store, an African American woman, in the segment.”

The North Star has reached out to Old Navy for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. The company denied Alvarado’s accusations in a statement to NBC10.

“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging,” the spokesperson wrote. “We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager 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.”

“These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population. We would never select employees to participate — or not — based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company,” the statement continued.

Alvarado told the news station that she met with the company’s human resources department on August 27 following the incident and said an investigation is underway.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.