Rina Bovrisse spoke out against discrimination at Prada. Now, the single mother is paying the price…
Rina graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York and, during her 18-year fashion career, worked at some of the world’s largest luxury fashion companies, including Chanel Inc. and Prada USA. Prada Japan hired Rina (a Japanese national) in April 2009 as Senior Retail Operations Manager and tasked her with overseeing 500 Prada employees. She moved to Japan with her two year old son, excited about the opportunity ahead.
Almost immediately, Rina began observing evidence of discrimination in Prada’s HR department. She recalls Prada Japan CEO Davide Sesia ordering the demotion and transfer of fifteen female employees (many of them long-serving, top saleswomen) because they were “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or did not have the Prada look.”
When she spoke out against this injustice, Rina was criticized for her own appearance, offered a demotion to an entry-level sales staff position, and then urged to resign.
In 2010, Rina and two of her Prada colleagues decided to take a stand. They filed a lawsuit against the luxury fashion label, arguing that Prada’s appearance-based discrimination and harassment violated Article 709 of Japanese Civil Law.
Two years later, in October 2012, Tokyo District Court Presiding Judge Reiko Morioka ruled in favor of Prada, deciding that the company’s demonstrated discrimination was acceptable for a luxury fashion label and that a well-compensated female employee should be able to withstand a certain level of harassment.
The ruling flew in the face of Japanese and US law, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace and protects an employee’s right to report wrongful acts of corporations in public for social improvement.
Currently, Prada is countersuing the single mother to the tune of $780,000 for damaging the Prada brand by publicly accusing the company of discrimination. The irony of this countersuit is that Judge Morioka and Prada’s attorneys previously acknowledged that discrimination had in fact occurred.
The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Japan to make sexual harassment illegal in the workplace after hearing Rina’s case in late April 2013. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women met with Rina to discuss her experience and the larger issue of discrimination against women in the workforce.
Join us by signing this petition to Prada. We are confident that your participation will send a clear message that Prada’s discrimination against its female employees and its bullying of this courageous single mother will not be tolerated by Prada consumers or the international community.
Show Rina Bovrisse that she is not alone…
Links to international news coverage: The New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, Buzzfeed,Jezebel, New York Magazine, Vogue, The Japan Times, Bloomberg, and Daily Finance