One week after Gabourey Sidibe revealed she was allegedly racially profiled at a Chanel store, Page Six reports a new lawsuit accuses the Gianvito Rossi shoe company of discriminating against Serena Williams.
Whitney Wilburn, the black former manager of Madison Avenue’s Gianvito Rossi store, filed the suit (which Page Six somehow obtained). Wilburn alleges she experienced “hostile” treatment from her boss, Grace Mazzilli, “based on her race and age.” (Mazzilli is white.) Wilburn was reportedly the only black employee at Gianvito Rossi for a year and a half, and her time at the company “left no doubt” in her mind that Mazzilli harbors “racial animosity toward African Americans.” She was supposedly fired “without warning or formal evaluation” and replaced with a “much younger white manager.”
In the suit Wilburn lists examples of how this animosity she says took shape. For instance, Mazzilli allegedly threw “numerous elaborate dinner parties” for the Gianvito Rossi boutiques “managed by white employees” but never hosted get-togethers for Wilburn’s Madison Avenue store.
There’s also the alleged incident involving Williams, which the suit outlines in detail. “When the world famous athlete Serena Williams, via her staff, asked for a discount on her extensive purchases, Gianvito managers responded with racially disparaging comments about Ms. Williams, which made it clear that the company did not want African American women to wear its shoes,” the suit says, according to Page Six.
The managers reportedly called Williams “disgusting” and only gave her a discount after a Vogue employee pressured them; however, it apparently wasn’t as much as the one Gianvito Rossi gives to its white celebrity customers.
This is very similar to the experience Sidibe wrote about in her essay for Lenny Letter last week. If you recall, a Chanel employee in Chicago directed Sidibe to a nearby discount store the second she walked into the boutique.”She greeted me, but the look on her face told me that she thought I was lost,” Sidibe wrote. “I had been at her display for less than a minute, and she was literally directing me to another store. I knew what she was doing. She had decided after a single look at me that I wasn’t there to spend any money.” Chanel released a statement apologizing to Sidibe shortly after her essay went live. “Chanel expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in the essay she published on a website,” it read. “We are sorry that she felt unwelcome and offended.”
Reps for Gianvito Rossi haven’t responded to Page Six‘s claims.