FASHION LAW: ZARA SUED FOR $40 MILLION IN DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
Next up on the discrimination bandwagon is fast-fashion heavyweight, Zara USA Inc. Not long after their run-in last year, which placed the company in hot water for selling “Holocaust shirts,” Zara is now being sued for $40 million by former general counsel, Ian Jack Miller, who claims discriminatory work practices that created a hostile work environment during his time with the company.
The lawsuit pinpoints nine causes of action based primarily on racial discrimination and retaliation, in particular anti-Semitism, and are claimed to be in violation of New York State and New York City Human Rights laws, as well as retaliation under New York labor law.
Miller asserts that he was discriminated against for being Jewish, American and gay and stands by his belief that company leadership prefers people who are Christian, Spanish and heterosexual. Miller served as general counsel at the retailer from 2007 up until last March.
In a few concrete examples Miller shares that senior executives “openly used racial slurs and exchanged racial emails” during his time at Zara. Some of these emails even portrayed Michelle Obama serving fried chicken and President Obama in a KKK hood. The discrimination intensified for Miller after executives found out he was Jewish.
A spokesman for Zara stated “Zara USA is a diverse and multicultural company that is part of a worldwide organization that has more than 140,000 employees of different nationalities, cultures, languages and beliefs across 88 countries. We have a strong social commitment based on fairness, respect and equality for all. In keeping with our global success, we work hard to create exciting and rewarding work environments for each of our employees.”
Miller’s lawyer, Alexandra Harwin, stands by her client in labeling the behavior at Zara absolutely outrageous. She said “Their treatment, including the open denigration of Jews, is something that no employee should have to face.”