Two former employees of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp have filed a lawsuit claiming the fashion house denied them the same pay and job opportunities as its white employees, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

According to the paper, the ex-workers have received a "right to sue" ruling from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the government agency that enforces anti-discrimination labour laws.

In the suit, Henry Williams, an African-American who worked for several years at Polo's shops in two department stores, alleged that despite increasing his responsibilities, Polo's failure to promote him was "discriminatory in intent and effect".

Gerardeen Benedict, who is of Filipino descent, worked in Polo's human resources and alleged that white colleagues earned substantially higher starting salaries than she did, despite the fact she had a doctorate in experimental psychology.

The Journal said a spokeswoman for Polo denied the allegations and said the firm "remains committed to a fair and diverse workplace". She added: "The EEOC has been pleased with the programs and policies we have put in place over the past couple of years."