A French lingerie brand has come under fire after a video surfaced showing two employees taking part in an 'Africa-themed' dinner party, thrown by a hostess in blackface.
Le Slip Français - or the French Briefs - started 2020 in hot water following the circulation on Instagram and Twitter of shocking footage of two of its employees, who were not named, at the event.
In the video, the hostess, with darkened skin, was speaking in an exaggerated African accent and dressed in a Boubou robe, traditional dress from West Africa, while a male Le Slip Français employee could be seen hopping around on the floor and banging his chest while wearing a gorilla mask.
Another guest who was also identified as a Slip Français employee laughed hysterically.
The hostess initially shared the video on her Instagram story, which was picked up by an anti-racism Instagram account. It led to public outrage and thousands have called for a boycott of Le Slip following the scandal.
The company said in an official statement that it had sanctioned the two employees, but their reaction was deemed unsatisfactory online. Mailonline contacted Le Slip for further comment.
The incriminating video has been branded 'vile' and 'outrageous' by shocked commenters online.
In the video, the woman wearing blackface could be heard saying: 'It's obvious, but I just want to make it clear, there's absolutely nothing racist in my Instagram story this evening,' as she drove to pick her friend from the train station.
She then added 'and Viva Africa,' in an exaggerated African accent.
Later, as the party moved to the woman's apartment, the male employee, dressed completely in black, could be seen hopping on all fours on the floor, with an ape mask on his face.
During the dinner, where the hostess served chicken maffe, a Senegalese specialty, the threesome laughed at their appearance and attempted to imitate black people dancing.
In the last part of the video, the man could be heard grunting and seen pounding his chest while the woman in the blue boubou danced to a song called' Saga Africa' by Black French artist and former tennis player Yannick Noah.
The third woman, who did not partake in the dancing, could be heard saying 'I can't deal with them anymore,' as she laughed hysterically.
Following the uproar, one of the women said in a message on social media: 'Just to clarify, I don't have the slightest racist intentions, to the contrary. It was just an African-themed dinner, nothing more. Sorry if this was misinterpreted, happy new year and viva Africa.'
A spokesperson for Le Slip said that 'while the company was not legally responsible for the acts of its employees outside of the workplace, it did feel like it had a morale obligations to tackle issues with racist and discriminatory behaviour.
'It is why, as soon as we were alerted to the issue, the company suspended the two employees without pay while it makes further decisions concerning their future. Legal proceedings have since been undertaken,'
In an official statement shared on Twitter, Le Slip Français said: 'We're shocked and firmly condemn these acts.
'We promote values of equality and respect which oppose this behaviour and will always do so. Any racist or discriminatory act is not acceptable in our company.
'The said employees were called in by Le Slip Français' management and sanctioned.
'We gathered all employees to reaffirm our values of equality and respect and remind of everyone's responsibility in their role as citizens both in the public and private spheres,' it went on.
However, the company's reaction was judged weak and unsatisfactory, and people called for a boycott of Le Slip Français altogether on French social media platforms.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.