There is a lot more going on at Tom Ford’s flashy flagship store in New York than the sale of pricey garments and accessories. A new lawsuit asserts that the brand’s Madison Avenue boutique is the home of “rampant discrimination and severe abuse” thanks to one of the store’s managers, and that despite complaints from staff, the famous fashion brand’s executives have routinely looked the other way.
According to a complaint filed in a New York state court late last week, former Tom Ford employee Yekaterina Angert alleges that she suffered “wildly inappropriate, outrageous and extreme discriminatory and abusive behavior at the hands of [Tom Ford] Alterations Manager Tatyana Gleyzerman.”
In particular, Gleyzerman allegedly made anti-Semitic comments, including telling Angert, "an observant Jew, not to discuss her Judaism ... at the store, because 'they don't like Jews around here,'" and on occasions, “randomly told [Angert] that she was 'very horny,'“ that she “needed sex for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” and that she owns “every sex toy possible to own.”
Still yet, Angert claims that Gleyzerman would “verbally harass [her], yelling at her and berating her in front of all her coworkers” and “intentionally sabotage her work.”
Angert says that she informed the store’s manager Kevin Wood and general manager Jordan Sromek that "she believed she was beginning to suffer serous anxiety because of the harassment” from Gleyzerman. While Wood and Sromek did, in fact, "summon" Gleyzerman about the complaint, Angert says that it only resulted in Gleyzerman "escalating the harassment even further,” prompting Angert to faint at work and being “diagnosed with a panic attack at the hospital,” the “first time” in Angert’s life that she has experienced such an episode.
“This was not a wake-up call to Tom Ford to reign in Ms. Gleyzerman,” according to Angert, who says that she was “illegally terminated” by Tom Ford last month, alleges. “To the contrary, Tom Ford allowed this behavior to continue and escalate.”
The harassment became so severe that in October that Angert says she “was instructed by mental health professionals to take medical leave to recover from the psychological stress inflicted on her at Tom Ford.” She asserts that “On October 8, 2018, [Angert] gave [Tom Ford] a letter from her psychiatrist that she needed to take medical leave … until October 14. On October 12, [Angert] submitted another letter from her psychiatrist explaining that she needed the leave until October 22.”
Angert claims, “In a clear act of subterfuge to terminate [her] on account of her disability, Tom Ford sent [her] a letter dated October 10, 2018, telling [her] that she ran out of Paid Time Off.” The letter – which Angert says was “postmarked on October 15, 2018” and which she “first received it on October 17, 2018” – stated that “if [she] did not respond by October 15, she would be terminated from the company for having abandoned her job.”
“In other words,” Tom Ford sent her “a letter that made it seem as though [the company] was inviting [her] to seek an accommodation for her disability, but that in fact necessarily effectuated [her] termination.”
As a result, Angert has set forth claims discrimination under New York State Human Rights Law and intentional infliction of emotional distress, stating in connection with the latter that the defendants "engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct" and that as a direct result, she has "suffered severe emotional distress.”
A representative for Tom Ford was not immediately available for comment.
*The case is Yekaterina Angert v. Tom Ford Retail, LLC, and Tatyana Gleyzerman, 160217/2018 (NY Sup).