A young fashion designer who attended the New School for Design and worked for Chanel in New York is fighting back on the issue of workplace discrimination. The woman’s dream job came through when she landed a position with Prada in 2009. Though she had the chance to supervise hundreds of employees, she quickly noticed that something wasn’t right. Two weeks after taking the position, she noticed there was a noticeable focus on image and not fashion, and she observed supervisors belittle her coworkers. She wondered why.
It soon became obvious that the more unattractive female workers were berated, categorized, and placed behind the scenes by Human Resources and the Chief Executive Officer. When more than 15 female workers were demoted, the fashion designer decided to step forward. Her concerns were not acknowledged, and she was told she, too, had to change her looks to suit the company image.
When she expressed opposition, she was demoted and then fired. What followed was a worldwide expression of outrage on the social media sites. Protesters took to the streets in support of her suit against the iconic fashion company. Although she lost the case, she took it all the way to the United Nations, seeking worldwide justice in the fashion industry. The United Nations agreed and declared discrimination in the workplace illegal.
The fashion designer has expressed concern that no one should have to work in an unsafe or discriminatory workplace. Prada has reportedly countersued and has refused to back down. The young woman has amassed quite a cadre of support, eventually starting her own website, change.org, which continues to collect signatures requesting Prada to drop their countersuit.
The young lady has stated that since her suit began, other female employees at the fashion house have come forward describing similar situations of blatant workplace discrimination. Although Prada has declined to comment, the fashion designer says she plans to keep on fighting to change the climate in the fashion industry. She claims she wants to help erase harassment and discrimination in the industry because, well, that’s just not beautiful.
If you feel you are a victim of discrimination on the job, it is advisable that you seek legal advice to protect your rights at the workplace. Attorneys can navigate the slippery slope between an uncomfortable atmosphere at work and an illegal one that demands change.
CBS Los Angeles, “Ex-Prada Employee Who Accused Fashion House Of Discrimination Fights Nearly $800K Countersuit” No author given, Aug. 06, 2013