Off-Topic Tuesday: Gucci Man Say It Ain’t So, or, Must The Recovering Attorney Retire Her Gucci Gear?

Rihanna Gucci

The following post is thick with s.e.x., a high-end European design house, a R&B mega star, foreign travel, AND jurisprudence–I just couldn’t resist!:

Why can’t we all just get along?….Josephine Robinson, a former tax lawyer (kudos to her–tax law is not a joke!) for Gucci America (yes, that Gucci), who identifies as a “dark-skinned West Indian Latina, is suing the Italian fashion house alleging that over the course of her employment  she was the subject of racist comments and discriminatory treatment due to her, race, ethnicity and  skin color (*colorism*–a big sigh).

But here’s the sexy part of the story.  The  part of the story that elevates Ms. Robinson’s complaint of discriminatory treatment from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s backlog of such cases ( I was a successful plaintiff’s employment attorney–many a days spent at the EEOC office)  to the forefront of the print news (albeit the “Style Section”–it is the venerable House of Gucci after all), the www. and the blogosphere—-the sexy part—Rihanna.  It does not get much sexier than Rihanna  if you equate sexiness with crouch shots/grabs, leotards (I am a woman of a certain age) and a lot of bumps and grinds. 

Ms. Robinson has alleged that when her superior Stan Sherwood learned that Rihanna, who posed for Gucci back in 2008, was from the beautiful (my word not Stan’s) island of Barbados, Sherwood allegedly told Ms. Robinson, who was responsible for the contract work, to “tax the hell out of her and find a way to allow Gucci to withhold 30% of her {Rihanna} fee.” 

To make matters worse, when Robinson took her allegations to Gucci America assistant general counsel, Stefania Sicari, Ms. Robinson was advised that if she continued to complain she was “asking to be fired and that Gucci has a high tolerance for racism.” 

If true, interesting indeed! 

Additional complaints lodged by Ms. Robinson against Gucci:  called “day labor”,  “a loose woman”,  “a prostitute”; said to have been “picked up off the streets.”  And when she traveled to Italy for a company retreat, Ms. Robinson said that her accommodations were inferior to that of her colleagues and when she questioned said accommodations she was allegedly told in part that she was “black, very, very black.”  I am assuming that from Gucci’s perspective ( they do have “a high tolerance for racism’), the answer of Ms. Robinson being “black, very, very, black” made perfect sense.  Too dark=inferior accomodations.  Right? Right! Didn’t she get the e-mail (I am being sarcastic of course)?

Gucci’s response to all of this 2011 questioning of their alleged 1940’s business culture/practices:  “Ms. Robinson’s allegations are completely baseless and the company will defend itself vigorously against this meritless litigation.  The company is confidant that it will prevail.”

But to Gucci’s credit, it’s not the first time that a high-end  European purveyor of luxury goods has been accused of forgetting who butters their bread.  Think Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Bally’s and Rolls Royce (it was alleged that RR took issue when one of the world’s greatest showman, Sammy Davis Jr.–born and raised in Harlem, sought to purchase a Rolls in the 1950s) to name a few.  I am sure that  urban legends, half-truths and straight up truth will reveal additional tales of  such foolishness. 

So here’s my question:  Like Donald John Trump, will Gucci have to do damage control by releasing a public statement declaring its long-standing love affair and resulting lucrative relationship with “the Blacks?”  They might want to include “the Latinas”, “the West Indians” esp. Barbadians, “darker hued people of color,”  and “the Hip Hop generation  (one day I will learn the  true demographics of that generation)”— Ms. Josephine Robinson, Esq. might have just started something here.  House of Dereon here we come.  Ha!

Disclaimer:   The statements made by Ms. Robinson are mere allegations and have been treated as such by The Recovering Attorney Un-Blog(tm).  When contacted by The Recovering Attorney Un-Blog(tm) Gucci America declined the opportunity to respond to Ms. Robinson’s  assertions.  No.  Really.

COPYRIGHT 2011.  The Recovering Attorney Un-Blog(tm).  All Rights Reserved.  And I will sue.  Ha!

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