updated 8 Feb 2011, 23:33
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Wed, Mar 17, 2010
The New Paper
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Prada ordered 'old, fat and ugly' staff fired

A SENIOR manager of Prada sued the fashion label, claiming that she was ordered to get rid of “old, fat and ugly” staff in its Japanese stores.

Ms Rina Bovrisse, a senior retail manager at Prada Japan, also alleges that the chief executive wanted her to change her hairstyle and lose weight in order to fit into the company, reported The Daily Telegraph.

She failed to settle the harassment and discrimination dispute after an industrial tribunal on Saturday, and told The Japan Times that she will take further legal action against the company.

The parties involved can opt to proceed with a civil suit to seek a court ruling.

Ms Bovrisse said she was told on Saturday by Prada Japan that she will be fired today on the grounds that she made false accusations against the company.

However, Prada’s Japan office issued a statement on Saturday confirming that it had been “perfectly legal” in the dismissal of Ms Bovrisse.

“Prada would like to inform that the Japanese Court has turned down all the allegations of the employee and has confirmed that the dismissal of Ms Rina Bovrisse was perfectly legal.”

However, Ms Bovrisse said: “I am planning to collect more witnesses and file a lawsuit as soon as possible. This process may take a month or two.”

Discrimination suit

Ms Bovrisse, who oversaw 500 staff in 40 stores across Japan, launched a discrimination and harassment case against the Italian fashion label after an incident in May last year.

She claims that Mr Davide Sesia, the chief executive officer of Prada Japan, allegedly asked her to “eliminate” around 15 managerial staff he described as “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or not having the Prada look” following a tour of 40 stores.

Immediately after those demands were made, Prada’s human resources department reportedly notified 13 members of staff with transfer orders due to poor sales, Ms Bovrisse told the Japan Times.

She said many of them chose to quit instead.

Change hairstyle

Ms Bovrisse alleged that she was also later summoned to a meeting and informed that Mr Sesia wanted her to “change her hairstyle, lose weight” because he was ashamed of her ugliness and did not want visitors from Italy to see her.

She later complained to Prada’s head office in Milan, reported The Daily Mail.

Ms Bovrisse, who has 18 years’ experience working in the international fashion industry, was placed on involuntary leave last November and launched her legal case the following month.

She said: “My responsibility is to protect hard-working women and make sure their working environment is safe.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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