An ex-retail manager for Prada’s Japanese division, Rina Bovrisse, has followed through on her pledge to file a discrimination lawsuit against the company. Bovrisse claims she was asked to fire store managers and retail staff members whom Prada Japan’s CEO found visually unappealing. After filing a complaint about this with the Tokyo District Court in December, she was fired from the company.
On Monday Prada issued a statement saying “the Japanese competent Court has dismissed all of the employee’s accusations and has ruled that the termination of her employment was perfectly legitimate.” Not quite, according to Bovrisse, who suggests the press office is exaggerating.
Bovrisse says the court did not reach a settlement between her and Prada Japan, leaving her free to sue them. “You can’t stop people suing you,” a Prada spokeswoman in Milan told WWD. The trial could last a year, and would be open to the public. “We are very serene and we’ll fight back in the appropriate way,” the Prada spokeswoman added.
A source who once applied for a position with Prada Japan’s corporate office tells us she believes she wasn’t hired because of her appearance. After performing a number of tests for the position, she was sure she’d get the job, but never did. She said she heard it could have easily had something to do with a supervisor who didn’t like her makeup and the way she dressed.
Bovrisse is seeking money for emotional damages and lawyers’ fees, but says she’s more keen on Prada Japan sending her a letter of apology. She has set up a Facebook fan page for her cause, and said she hopes she can show Japanese women that, contrary to societal norms, they should feel comfortable speaking up for themselves. She told WWD, “I think Japan is a developed country but in terms of sexual harassment and human rights for females, especially in the workplace, it’s very behind. It’s almost like 50 years ago in the United States.”