Queer Eye is denying any involvement in a claim that Old Navy ensured white employees were predominantly visible in a scene for the reality makeover show.
An employee at the Center City location in Philadelphia claimed the store brought in white employees to replace ethnically diverse employees when the show filmed on Aug. 21.
In a statement to Newsweek, Netflix denied having any knowledge of the staffing and said the crew worked with a black manager during the scene.
“Queer Eye’s hosts, producers and crew had no knowledge or influence on Old Navy staffing choices while filming in a Philadelphia-based store this past week,” the statement said. “While filming, production featured one female employee, an African American manager, who completed an on-camera styling consultation and also served as a point of contact for our crew.”
In a Facebook post, Old Navy employee Monae Alvarado accused the brand of asking employees to work overnight to prepare the store for filming — but then stay off-camera once the crew arrived.
“My job is nothing but people of color,” she wrote on Facebook on Aug. 21. “Most of us did an overnight to help make the store look beautiful. Today they brought all these workers from other store [sic] 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.”
Old Navy responded to the claim in a statement to PEOPLE.
“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging. 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,” read the statement. “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.”
Since Alvarado’s post, two more employees have corroborated her story with Philadelphia magazine.
Tan France, the style expert on Queer Eye, responded directly to Alvarado in a comment on her post.
“I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight,” he wrote, “but what I can tell you is that there [is] no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC [people of color] to the back.”
Queer Eye is currently shooting its fifth season in Philadelphia.