Posted September 15th, 2015.
Giorgio Armani discriminated against its general counsel because he’s Mexican — and then fired him after he was diagnosed with colon cancer, a $75 million lawsuit says.
“The Armani brand is associated with high fashion and understated elegance,” the Manhattan Supreme Court suit says, “but there was nothing elevated or subtle about the discrimination” Fabio Silva faced at the company.
The self-made Mexican immigrant went to work at the company as its general counsel in October of last year, but his tenure got off to a rocky start when the CFO Thomas Chan repeatedly told him “I don’t trust Mexicans” while they were working on a deal involving a Mexican vendor.
After a co-worker volunteered that Silva was Mexican, Chan started subjecting him to “heightened scrutiny and unfounded criticism,” the suit says.
Silva then filed a complaint about Chan’s behavior to the company’s COO in December, the suit says.
But the COO, Giorgio Fornari, didn’t take any action — and chided Silva for saying anything in writing.
Silva continued putting his nose to the grindstone and got an outstanding performance review in April, but was told by Fornari he couldn’t get a raise because of his discrimination complaint, the suit says.
“That’s retaliation,” Silva allegedly said — and he was told if he didn’t like it, he could leave the company and his $200,000 a year job.
Silva said he wanted to stay — but unbeknownst to him, the company started searching for a replacement.
He was fired on July 2, “minutes after” he told his bosses he’d been diagnosed with colon cancer. He says he was told he was being let go because the company could no longer “trust” him.
“Despite being an extraordinary attorney and well qualified and experienced in the fashion world, Mr. Silva was subjected to retaliation and termination due to his complaining about discrimination in the workplace,” said his lawyer, David Sanford of Sanford Heisler Kimpel.
“Such treatment is never in style.”
Reps for Armani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.