Bosses at luxury shoe company Gianvito Rossi have been accused of branding Serena Williams ‘disgusting’ and refusing to give her a celebrity discount because she’s black.
Whitney Wilburn, who went to work for the shoe firm’s Manhattan boutique in 2015, has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against her former employer.
Wilburn claims her old boss Grace Mazzilli had a ‘racial animosity toward African Americans’, New York Post.
She claims that when world renowned tennis star Williams had contacted the store, via her staff, to inquire about a discount on her many purchases, managers had refused.
The referred to the tennis pro as ‘disgusting’ and ‘made it clear that the company did not want African American women to wear its shoes,’ the suit says.
‘When later pressured to do so by a contact at Vogue magazine, they offered only a fraction of the discount that white celebrities typically receive,’ the suit says.
Wilburn, who was recruited from another fashion store, says she was the only black employee at the boutique for a year and a half.
During that time, her suit says Mazzilli was ‘hostile to Wilburn based upon her race and age.’
She was also never invited to any of the many events all Mazzilli threw for boutiques run by white colleagues.
Wilburn was then fired in January 2017 ‘without warning or formal evaluation’ and was replaced her with a ‘much younger white manager,’ the suit says.
Gianvito Rossi rejects Wilburn’s claims, telling the DailyMail.com it ‘regrets that this former employee chose to conflate her own claims with allegations about our relationship with Ms. Serena Williams who we have the honor of having as our client.’
Gianvito Rossi added that it has relationships with several international celebrities ‘without any distinction.’
Even worse, the reporting impugned baselessly and carelessly the integrity of our incredible caring and diverse staff. At the appropriate time and in the appropriate context Gianvito Rossi will reply and be vindicated.
Gianvito Rossi further regrets that this former employee chose to conflate her own claims with allegations about our relationship with Ms. Serena Williams who we have the honor of having as our client. Gianvito Rossi has the pleasure of having relationships with international celebrities without any distinction.
Finally, this employee has chosen, as is her right, to pursue legal recourse for perceived issues. Gianvito Rossi will respect that decision and will respond through the legal process.
Any questions during the pendency of this process should be directed to Gianvito Rossi’s general counsel Leonard Budow, Esq., Chairman Fashion Group, Fox Rothschild LLP