Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET: An Arizona grandfather says Barnes & Noble discriminated against him and forced him out of a Scottsdale store because he was a male customer sitting alone in the children’s section.
Omar Amin of Scottsdale said he’s still outraged over the May 4 incident and is demanding an apology from the national book retailer. He said he is considering legal action.
On Monday afternoon, Barnes & Noble issued an apology. “We want to apologize to Dr. Amin for a situation in which Dr. Amin was asked to leave the children’s section of our Scottsdale, Arizona store," Mark Bottini, vice president, director of stores for Barnes & Noble, said in an email. "We should not have done so. It is not our policy to ask customers to leave any section of our stores without justification. We value Dr. Amin as a customer and look forward to welcoming him in any of our stores.”
Amin, 73, said he was ousted from the book store after a woman shopper complained to a staff employee, saying she felt uneasy about his presence in the children’s area.
"I did not break any rules,” Amin told msnbc.com on Monday. “There was no sign posted that said men are not allowed in the children's book area."
Amin said he had been looking for books to buy for his two grandchildren, ages 7 and 5, when his cell phone rang. He said he sat on the floor by the windows and spoke quietly to a friend, he said.
Amin said a store employee interrupted his call and said he needed to leave the store.
Arizona's public-accommodations law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, according to Arizona State University law professor Charles Calleros.
Calleros told the Arizona Republic that if women without children are allowed to shop in the children's section, "then we arguably have gender discrimination.”
Amin, the director of Parasitology Center Inc. in Scottsdale and an expert in infectious disease, had written a complaint to Barnes & Noble.
“It's not enough. I want my honor restored,” Amin told msnbc.com. “I want to walk back into the store with my head held up high. I did not break any rules. My pride has been scratched.”
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