A federal lawsuit filed against the high-end Bond No. 9 perfume company accuses the owner of ordering employees to follow black customers around the Bleecker Street store because she thinks they're "thieves," and using a code phrase to alert workers to their presence. "We need the light bulbs changed," was allegedly intended to signal that black shoppers were on the premises.

According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by the Daily News, Bond No. 9 owner Laurice Rahme admitted using the “light bulbs” code, but only “to protect the girls” when a suspicious shopper was in the store. (Though the News reports that she did note that every time her shop was robbed, the culprits "were all African-American robbers.") Rahme blames the lawsuit on disgruntled employees and adds that most of her workers are minorities.

Veronica Robledo and Karin Widmann are seeking $3 million from Rahme. Robledo alleges that Rahme wouldn't let her serve white customers because her "skin is dark." She tells the News, “The last eight months were torture. I was afraid to speak to a black customer." Robdelo, who claims Rahme fired her after she complained about the allegedly racist treatment.