Image: The RealReal

The RealReal is being sued by a current employee for allegedly maintaining a workplace in which “men are not held to the same goals and standards as [their female counterparts],” and women are paid less and passed over for promotions as a result of their gender and age. That is what Leah Goldblatt asserts in the lawsuit that she filed against the resale titan in a New York state court in November, with the case being removed to federal court (at The RealReal’s request) late last week.

In her November 22 complaint, as first reported by WWD, Ms. Goldblatt claims that while she has been employed by The RealReal (“TRR”) since June 2013, starting as a merchandise manager and subsequently being promoted to Senior Business Account Manager and then to her current role as Director of Business Development for Fine Jewelry, a position in which she says that she “brings in approximately $2 million per month, oftentimes more,” she says that she has begun to experience discrimination based on her age and gender.

For instance, Goldblatt, who is in her early 50s, says that her issues with the burgeoning resale company first started when her commission percentage was abruptly cut, making “her rate of pay clearly lower than her male comparators.” Since there was “no legitimate business reason for the pay cut and no male employees suffered the same commission reduction,” and given her allegedly “stellar performance,” Goldblatt claims that the “motivation” behind this pay cut could only be the result of her “age and gender.”

But the pay cut was not a isolated incident, Goldblatt argues. In November 2018, she says she was passed over for a promotion to Director of Vender Business Development Team, a role that was given to fellow TRR employee Joseph Tenenbaum, who joined the company in April 2018 and “did not possess any relevant experience to justify such a promotion.”

Pointing to “five and a half years [of experience at TRR],” “extensive positive performance reviews,” and “more than the requisite experience, knowledge, and proven ability to qualify for the Director position,” Goldblatt argues that she was, nonetheless, “not considered for the position due to her age and gender.”

Not only was she passed over for the promotion, Goldblatt says that she and other female employees have been subjected to “misogynist and discriminatory” behavior from Tenenbaum since the start of his new tenure. For instance, Goldblatt alleges that Tenenbaum “has made a number of [inappropriate] comments in [her] presence,” on one occasion allegedly asking a woman “disapprovingly whether she was ‘planning on having a baby.’” On another, his “overt misogyny” took the form of him “expressing that the company needed to ‘even out the genders’” of its employees (i.e., needed to hire more men).

Such behavior “has served to demoralize many female employees at the company and has engendered a number of complaints from [at least three other] female employees to Human Resources that their work environment is hostile to females,” Goldblatt claims. Faced with such concerns, Goldblatt asserts that TRR’s Human Resources department “has taken no actions to protect females in Tenenbaum’s department, nor has it disciplined [him] for his discriminatory conduct.”

Goldblatt notes, however, that the company’s HR department did hold a meeting with Tenenbaum in September 2019, but says that she was not invited to attend and asserts that “since that meeting, no actions were taken [by TRR] to correct the age discrimination and gender hostile working environment.” In fact, she claims that in the wake of the meeting, Tenenbaum “has marginalized [her] even further and has been even more openly hostile to her since [she made] her complaints.”

With the forgoing in mind, Goldblatt claims that her “male counterparts are not held to the same goals and standards as [she is] and face no employment consequences if goals are not met.” More than that, she asserts that “male colleagues [generally have] received more substantial employment perquisites than [she has],” thereby, giving rise to a presumption of discrimination on the basis is gender and age.

While Tenenbaum is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, Goldblatt claims that TRR is on the hook for violations of New York state law, including New York Human Rights Law, which prohibits “unlawful discriminatory practices,” such as discrimination in the form of “compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment” on the basis of an individual’s “age, race, creed, color, national origin, or gender,” among other things.

In furtherance of such causes of action, Goldblatt is seeking damages to compensate her for lost past earnings, as she claims that she “has suffered damages because ‘her commission percentage [has been altered downward’ and [because The RealReal] failed to promote her to the position of Director of Vendor Business,” a position that pays an annual salary of $181,000, including bonus. She is also seeking damages in the form of lost future earnings, namely, the money she would have earned “had she been permitted to earn commission at her preferred rate or promoted to her desired position.”

Still yet, she is seeking compensatory damages for the “emotional injuries” she incurred as a result of such alleged discrimination.

In a statement provided to The Fashion Law on Thursday, a spokesman for TRR said, “We are an equal opportunity employer. The RealReal is proud to have a long-standing commitment to diversity: 68 percent of our employees are female and 67 percent are minorities. One-third of our executives are minorities, 67 percent of our management roles are held by women, and 84 percent of our sales leadership are women.”

“As with any lawsuit,” the rep continued, “we review the merits of the case and will settle it if warranted. Clearly, we had this opportunity with Ms. Goldblatt, but we won’t allow unfounded threats to guide our actions. The facts will support The RealReal.” UPDATED (April 2, 2020): On the heels of the case being assigned to a mediator in late December 2019, it appears that the parties have managed to settle their differences. Counsel for Goldblatt filed a stipulation for voluntary dismissal on April 2, stating that it is “hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the parties and/or their respective counsel(s) that the [case] is voluntarily dismissed, with prejudice against the defendant(s) The RealReal, Inc. and without costs.”

*The case is Goldblatt v. The RealReal, Inc., 1:19-cv-11447 (SDNY).