Rina Bovrisse, a former employee at Prada in Japan, was shocked when her boss told her to fire scores of coworkers because they were “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or did not have the Prada look.” When Rina spoke out, she was fired. Now, Prada is suing HER for $780,000 for allegedly damaging the Prada brand even though they don’t deny their discrimination.
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 the company’s CEO 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 Japanese law. But in 2012, the judge ruled that Prada’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.
Now, Prada is taking the outrageous step of countersuing the single mother to the tune of $780,000 for speaking out about the company’s discrimination. It's bad enough Prada is discriminating this way, but to SUE a woman who fought back? That’s unacceptable and Prada must drop the suit.
As a woman in Japan, I have experienced gender discrimination in employment too. It’s a huge problem in my country where none of the top companies are led by women. Rina has become the symbol of this injustice in Japan and if we let a major company like Prada bully her, other women will be afraid to stand up against discrimination too.
Join me in standing for gender equality by calling on Prada to stop bullying Rina and to drop its suit against her.