Just one week after Gabourey Sidibe penned a powerful letter about being discriminated against in a Chanel boutique, a former employee for luxury shoe company Gianvito Rossi filed a racial discrimination lawsuit, according to Page Six. This employee says tennis champ Serena Williams was discriminated against for her skin color and the claims are shocking.
Whitney Wilburn has dark skin and is 46 years old. She claims her boss Grace Mazzilli at the New York City Gianvito Rossi boutique was “hostile to her based upon her race and age.” Mazzilli was also allegedly hostile to Serena Williams.
“For instance, when the world famous athlete Serena Williams, via her staff, asked for a discount on her extensive purchases, Gianvito managers responded with racially disparaging comments about Ms. Williams which made it clear that the company did not want African American women to wear its shoes,” the suit reads, according to Page Six. Managers allegedly called Williams “disgusting.” It wasn’t until after a “contact at Vogue” reached out that Williams was given a discount, but allegedly less than white celebrities.
Page Six reports that Mazzilli fired Wilburn “without warning or formal evaluation” this past January, and replaced her with a younger, white manager.
More stories you might like:
While shocking, this treatment is all too common to people of color — especially women.
In a statement provided to Allure, Gianvito Rossi denies Mazzilli’s claims. The statement reads, in part: “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.”
8 Black Women Who Broke Barriers in Beauty:
This post has been updated.