Posted June 4th, 2015.
Three Zara employees have filed a $40 million lawsuit against the “fast-fashion” company, citing discriminatory work practices.
Ian Zack Miller, the company’s former general counsel, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday; also listed as defendants are Dilip Patel, country manager for the U.S., and Moises Costas Rodriguez, Zara USA’s director of expansion for North and South America. According to WWD:
The lawsuit, which alleged nine causes of action, based the claims on racial discrimination, in particular anti-Semitism. It is also alleging pay discrimination and retaliation. The alleged charges 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 claims that his March 2015 termination was unlawful. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Zara “favors employees who, like the company’s founder and majority shareholder Amancio Ortega Gaona, are straight, Spanish and Christian.” Employees like Miller, who is Jewish, American, and gay, are said to be discriminated against. According to the court document: “Supervisors and colleagues sent Mr. Miller homophobic emails, made anti-Semitic remarks in his presence and boasted that Spanish employees enjoyed more job security than employees of other nationalities.”
In addition, writes WWD, Miller spoke of executives promoting “heterosexuality as the company’s preferred sexual orientation, including talk about sexual relations with female subordinates, prostitutes and criticism of transgender individuals.” A Zara spokesman responding to the suit told WWD: “We do not tolerate any behavior that is discriminatory or disrespectful, but value each individual’s contributions to our dynamic organization.”
As Time points out, Zara has a history of anti-semitism—last year, the company publicly apologized for selling a baby shirt that served up concentration camp realness; they’ve also sold blackface necklaces and swastika-emblazoned handbags. Interestingly, the occasional explosion of bad press hasn’t appeared to have much of an effect on the company’s bottom line: founder Armancio Ortega has just surpassed Warren Buffett as the second-richest man in the world, with a net worth of $71.5 billion.