Prada gender discrimination case

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The Prada female discrimination case was the first luxury fashion lawsuit on women's rights appeared in the global media. The case was filed in Japan by Prada ex-employee Rina Bovrisse accusing Prada of sexual harassment and female discrimination in the workplace.[1] Prada denied all charges and countersued Bovrisse for defamation.[2] As the female judge who dismissed Bovrisse's case, Reiko Morioka, said in 2012: discrimination is “acceptable for a luxury fashion label and that a well-compensated female employee should be able to withstand a certain level of harassment.” Prada counter-sued for alleged defamation.[3] Bovrisse, not satisfied with the ruling, took the issue to United Nations Economic and Social Council. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for Japan's State party to introduce new regulations that would make sexual harassment in the workplace illegal.[4]


Rina Bovrisse graduated from Parsons The New School for Design and, during her 18-year fashion career, worked at some of the world's largest luxury fashion companies including Chanel SA and Prada USA. She worked at offices in New York, London, Hawaii and Paris.[5] On the strength of her resume, Prada Japan hired Bovrisse, a Japanese national, in April 2009 as senior retail operations manager, responsible for overseeing 500 employees and 42 stores in Japan, Guam, and Saipan.[6]

Prada Japan CEO Davide Sesia toured some of Japan's 40 shops alongside newly hired Bovrisse.[6] After this tour, Sesia told Bovrisse that fifteen shop managers and assistant managers needed to “disappear” because they were ugly, fat, or did not have “the Prada look.” Soon after, Senior Human Resources Manager Hiroyuki Takahashi gave demotion-transfer orders to thirteen of these employees, officially citing their poor sales numbers.[6] H.R. Manager said, “We don’t like her teeth or body shape.” Then sent a demotion or transfer to the most remote area, if refused, had to give in the resignation. Ladies over 30 years old were considered old. They were normally demoted to and transferred to some countryside outlet from top No. 1 salesperson as manager, to entry-level salesperson at an outlet. They used to call outlets “garbage bins for old ladies.[7][8]

In 2009, a female employee was physically abused. She didn’t have hair due to stress and depression from work. She said, she had been harassed but she was not worth because she was 40 years old. Every time the boss was angry, he would call her into the office and yell at her for an hour and throw a mobile phone at her face.[7][8]

On Sept. 29, 2009, the Prada Japan H.R. manager came to Bovrisse's office at 7 p.m. and said, “Can I talk to you for a second?” He said, “I’m giving you an H.R. warning. You will have to change your hairstyle. And you will have to lose weight. The CEO is so ashamed of your ugliness that he won’t introduce you to any visitors from Milan.” He laughed and said, “Well, I fired [Prada brand] Miu Miu’s manager because she didn’t have good teeth.” Bovrisse e-mailed Prada's Global COO in Milan for help. He told her to send him all the evidence and no one would get fired. A few days later after she submitted the evidences, she was called in the office by the Prada Japan CEO and fired for "Bringing negative energy to the company by voicing sexual harassment". Prada Japan's CEO and H.R. Manager sent her home, accused her of unexcused absence and firing was her imagination. Bovrisse got in touch with a lawyer, because she didn't know the law in Japan. Her lawyers recommended that she should go back to work and put a tape recorder on her leg under her skirt. She went back to work, but there was no computer on her desk. Prada H.R. Manager then, told her she was creating trouble by voicing these complaints [about] company policy, making up a story, bothering people's work and because of these troubles, she was getting demoted and transferred from senior executive to salesperson. Her lawyer received a pre-written resignation form that said, “As was discussed and agreed, please sign your resignation”. They went back to the recording, and there was no such conversation. H.R. Manager told her lawyer, “Oh yes, we did talk about resignation. She was the one who said that she feels really bad that she created all this trouble at work, so she wanted to resign” The lawyer told him that “the last conversation she had, she had recorded and printed it on paper, and there is no conversation of resignation.” Prada's H.R. person hung up the phone. After that, Prada cut her health benefit and pension plan, everything. Prada responded by purging her from the company, accusing her of mental illness and escalate it until she never came back. This resulted Bovrisse to file a labor complaint on December, 2009.[7][8][9]


On December 10, 2009, Bovrisse filed a complaint against Prada before an industrial tribunal, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination against women, violating women's rights in the workplace.[10] On March 12, 2010, the judge declared that the parties had failed to settle, which would permit formal litigation to commence.[7] [11]

On March 19, 2010, Bovrisse filed a civil suit against Prada alleging violations of women's rights – Labor complaint moved up to a civil case against Prada alleging violations of women's rights.[7][10] Prada countersued for damaging the company's image.[12] The case was dismissed on October 26, 2012.[13] Bovrisse, citing concerns of threats by the judge and suspicion of political intrigue, did not appeal this decision. Instead, she took her case to the United Nations. On April 30, 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a counter-report,[14][15][16] and on May 17, 2013, the United Nations Economic and Social Council released a statement to the Government of Japan urging to introduce new regulations that would make sexual harassment in the workplace illegal.[17][18]

On May 15, 2010, a former Prada manager filed a civil lawsuit against Prada alleging violations of women's rights.[19][20]


  1. ^ Lauren Leibowitz (24 April 2013). "Prada Employee's Lawsuit Now Involves 'Discrimination,' Aid From UN". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  2. ^ Minoru Matsutani (Aug 25, 2010). "Prada countersues plaintiff claiming harassment". The Japan Times. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Pesek, William (9 September 2010). "Prada Wears Devil in Eyes of This 'Ugly' Woman: William Pesek". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Watson, Bruce (21 April 2010). "In Japan, the Prada 'Look' Comes with a Side Order of Discrimination". Daily Finance. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e Watson, Bruce. "In Japan, the Prada 'Look' Comes with a Side Order of Discrimination". DailyFinance. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^ Business & Human Rights : Prada
  10. ^ a b Matsutani, Minoru (2010-03-12). "Prada accused of maltreatment". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  11. ^ Matsutani, Minoru (2010-03-14). "Prada, manager fail to come to settlement in harassment case". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  12. ^ Matsutani, Minoru (2010-08-25). "Prada countersues plaintiff claiming harassment". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
  13. ^ Matsutani, Minoru (Oct 27, 2012). "Axed manager's sexual harassment lawsuit against Prada Japan fails". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  14. ^ "Prada Employee's Lawsuit Now Involves 'Discrimination,' Aid From UN". Huffington Post. 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  15. ^ "Prada, suicide and sexual harassment: A whistle-blower speaks out". 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  16. ^ Amy Odell (April 5, 2013). "Woman Who Sued Prada For Sexual Harassment Fights $780,000 Countersuit". Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  17. ^ United Nations
  18. ^ "Prada Rina Bovrisse Lawsuit - UN Statement Released ( UK)". 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  19. ^ Pesek, William (2010-09-09). "Prada Wears Devil in Eyes of This 'Ugly' Woman: William Pesek". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  20. ^ Matsutani, Minoru (2010-05-15). "Two former managers to file harassment suits against Prada". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-02-14.