Luxury footwear label Gianvito Rossi is refuting discrimination claims involving tennis star Serena Williams that were made in a lawsuit filed against the company by a former employee of its Manhattan boutique.
“Yesterday certain media outlets reported on a complaint filed against Gianvito Rossi by a former employee,” the company said in a statement to Footwear News. “Consistent with our age of viral memes and false flags, there was no attempt at corroboration or substantiation of those baseless claims. Merely lifting words from a complaint out of context, without investigation and without even awaiting any reply in a pending proceeding, is a mere hit job.”
The luxury label added: “The reporting impugned baselessly and carelessly the integrity of our incredible caring and diverse staff. At the appropriate time and in the appropriate context Gianvito Rossi will reply and be vindicated.”
On Thursday, the New York Post— citing a racial discrimination suit filed by former Gianvito Rossi employee Whitney Wilburn — reported that managers for the luxury shoe company allegedly called tennis star Williams “disgusting” and refused to give her the same discounts as white celebrities.
The Post further referenced portions of Wilburn’s complaint — filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Wednesday — in which she alleges that “based upon her race and age,” she was treated with hostility by Gianvito Rossi global retail director Grace Mazzilli.
In the suit, Wilburn — who is 46 years old and black — had also claimed that her “experience with Mazzilli left no doubt about Mazzilli’s racial animosity toward African Americans.”
“For instance, when the world-famous athlete Serena Williams, via her staff, asked for a discount on her extensive purchases, Gianvito managers responded with racially disparaging comments about Ms. Williams which made it clear that the company did not want African American women to wear its shoes,” Wilburn alleged in the complaint.
In its statement to FN, Gianvito Rossi accused the former employee of conflating her claims “with allegations about our relationship with Ms. Serena Williams who we have the honor of having as our client. Gianvito Rossi has the pleasure of having relationships with international celebrities without any distinction.”
The company said that it “will respect” Wilburn’s decision to pursue legal courts and will respond through the legal process.