Europe

Galeries Lafayette apologises for barring cancer patient

Galeries Lafayette store in Paris (file pic) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket department store with dozens of branches across France

Prestigious French department store Galeries Lafayette has apologised to a woman being treated for cancer after an over-zealous security guard ejected her because her head was covered.

The woman went to the shop in Toulouse on Monday to buy a brooch for her hat.

When she showed the guard she had lost her hair, he apparently insisted she remove the hat in the store which she refused to do.

Her daughter's account on social media prompted a wave of sympathy.

"Mum, you just wanted to have some fun, buying a brooch to stick on your woolly hat to look more cheerful, but instead you left the store in pieces and humiliated," she wrote on Facebook.

"They refused to let my mother come in who's sick with cancer because she doesn't have her hair, she didn't wanted to go in with her head bare. It's shameful and inhuman."

Image caption Galeries Lafayette said: "We're clearly outraged that this isolated act which runs contrary to our values could have happened at the heart of our store"

Her post went viral and Galeries Lafayette was widely criticised on French social media.

The store quickly contacted the family and responded to the post, saying it was "a shocking action that in no way reflected the values of our store" and made no sense to the management or their 500 colleagues.

"What's important is to provide clear instructions and ensure it doesn't happen again. Anyone can make a mistake."

In a subsequent message on Facebook the woman's daughter praised the store's response and said they planned to meet soon.

Image caption A typical reaction on Twitter: "As for what happened in Toulouse, not allowing a woman to come in as she doesn't want to take off her hat because of cancer - where are we heading?"

Why the security guard had stopped the woman entering the store was initially unclear as it appeared to have nothing to do with France's 2010 law on banning face veils in public places.

Galeries Lafayette eventually explained that as a result of France's "vigipirate" anti-terror alert plan, some of its security guards had the right to ask visitors to its stores to remove anything that could obscure their faces.

France has been under a state of emergency ever since the November 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris which claimed 130 lives.

The store emphasised it was important not to take its measures too far and said it would take action against the overzealous guard.

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