Chanel Named in Discrimination Lawsuit by Former Employee

A former assistant manager of a Chanel boutique in San Francisco has slapped the Paris-based design house with a strongly-worded lawsuit alleging discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. According to Mia Komarevic’s complaint, which was filed in November in the Superior Court of the State of California, a state court in San Francisco, she was subjected to a “campaign of harassment” during her tenure with Chanel before being fired.

Komarevic states in her complaint, “During her first year, she was consistently recognized as a dedicated employee. That changed when Ms. Komarevic witnessed a Director violate company policy and state law by wearing merchandise out of the store for the night without paying for it and without permission, ultimately returning it to the store to be sold as new merchandise.” Moreover, Komarevic further asserts that she “followed Chanel's policy by reporting this incident to her manager, Loss Prevention, and Corporate Operations.”

After submitting her report, Komarevic claims that her fellow managers “responded by ostracizing her, excluding her from training opportunities, and critiquing her performance. Most egregiously, they attempted to force her to quit by intentionally preventing her from practicing her religion ... by changing her schedule to force her to work on Sundays.” Komarevic, an observant member of the Serbian Orthodox Church, alleges that she was deprived of her religious accommodation, which enabled her to not work on Sundays, except in cases of emergencies.

As a result, Komarevic claims that she contacted the company’s human resources manager to review her request for a religious accommodation to which she was told that "because she needed a religious accommodation, 'retail may not be for [her].'"

“Eight days after Ms. Komarevic reiterated her request for a religious accommodation in writing, Chanel fired her, citing unspecified ‘performance reasons.’”

With the foregoing in mind, complaint asserts, “Defendant committed the acts herein despicably, maliciously, fraudulently, and oppressively, with the wrongful intention of injuring Plaintiff” and seeks punitive damage for the “emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment” suffered by the plaintiff.

In a response filed on December 30, Chanel denied each and every allegation and that the plaintiff was damaged at all. Asserting 28 defenses, Chanel argued, among other things, that Komarevic had waived her right to assert the purported claims, was estopped, and had “engaged in conduct showing unclean hands.”

Finally, Chanel argued, “To the extent Plaintiff suffered any symptoms of emotional distress or inquiry, they were the result of a pre-existing psychological disorder or alternative concurrent cause, and not the result of any act or omission of Defendant.”

* The case is Mia Komarevic vs. Chanel, Inc. and Does 1 through 20, 4:17-cv-00008-PJH