After being slapped with a discrimination lawsuit this past spring by a transgender employee, Forever 21 is being sued again for discrimination. This time, the plaintiff, Mickael Louis, is citing discrimination on the basis of sex and gender.
According to Louis’s complaint, which was filed in the Eastern District of New York court this past week, he worked as an assistant store manager from January 2014 through April 2015 at Forever 21’s Kings Plaza location in Brooklyn, during which time a number of store managers, including Patrick Walmsley and Andy Liu, subjected him to “same-sex sexual harassment, [and] racist nicknames [such as “Nutella”] and ridicule.” Louis claims that he suffered extensive harassment from his bosses, including come-ons such as "I love muscular black guys like you" and "I bet you have a big dick,” which ultimately resulted in him quitting.
Louis further alleges that the managers took part in “racial profiling” of both employees and customers, telling him to keep the number of black employees who work as cashiers to a minimum and to generally watch out for black shoppers, because they’re “ghetto” and “because they steal.”
Per Louis’s complaint, Forever 21, Walmsley and Liu are liable for violations of federal and New York state laws against discrimination and harassment, namely as a result of the "creation and fostering of a racially and sexually hostile and offensive work environment.” He alleges that their “unlawful actions were intentional, done with malice and/or showed a deliberate, willful, wanton and reckless indifference to [his] rights, thereby causing him to “suffer monetary and/or economic harm, as well as emotional harm and distress.”
In addition to a jury trial, Louis is seeking monetary damages to compensate for his “emotional harm and distress” and for the “harm to his professional and personal reputations and loss of career fulfillment.”
As for the lawsuit that 22-year old transgender Alexia Daskalakis filed against Forever 21 in April 2015, which specifically cites the same store manager, Patrick Walmsley, for discrimination and harassment, that case is still pending in the Eastern District of New York. In her suit, Daskalakis alleges that the fast fashion giant's male supervisors insulted her and subjected her to bias because of her transgender identity.
Fellow Los Angeles-based fast fashion giant, Nasty Gal, is similarly facing a number of discrimination lawsuits at the moment. Nasty Gal is currently facing three separate lawsuits in connection with its alleged practice of discriminating against employees of the basis of sex and pregnancy. In short: Nasty Gal allegedly discriminated against and wrongfully terminated at least three employees because of their gender and the fact that they were pregnant. (These cases are still pending).
The Los Angeles-based fast fashion retailer and its “girl boss” owner, Sophia Amoruso, is also facing a lawsuit for discriminating against another female employee based on a mental or physical disability, in violation of both federal and California state law. Yes, not only has the retailer been accused of failing to “provide [state mandated] pregnancy leave and reinstatement [of employment after such leave]” for a number of employees, Nasty Gal is in legal trouble for allegedly discriminating against a seriously ill employee, as well.