A former attorney for fast-fashion behemoth Zara has sued the Spanish retailer for damages of at least $40 million, claiming he was fired for being Jewish, gay and American.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in New York state court in Manhattan, Ian Jack Miller—who was general counsel for Zara USA Inc. from January 2008 to March 2015—alleges that senior executives, including former CEO Moises Costas Rodriguez, subjected him to anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist remarks, excluded him from meetings and gave him lower raises because he wasn’t “straight, Spanish and Christian.”
The lawsuit also claims Miller was fired one day after the company received a letter from his lawyer voicing concerns about the discrimination, and accuses the retailer of violating various New York state and city human rights and labor laws.
Additional allegations cite corporate business trips that included prostitutes, pornographic imagery attached to company e-mails and racist slurs.
According to court papers Miller charges that, “senior executives at Zara openly…exchanged racist e-mails, including e-mails portraying Michelle Obama serving fried chicken and e-mails depicting Barack Obama in a Ku Klux Klan hoodie, with a Confederate flag…on an Aunt Jemima box, and shining shoes.”
A spokesperson for Zara USA told Fashionista that the accusations are “shocking” and that the company “will respond strongly and vigorously to these allegations in the court.”
“We do not tolerate any behavior that is discriminatory or disrespectful, but value each individual’s contributions to our dynamic organization,” Zara’s parent company, Inditex SA, said in a statement to Reuters.
This isn’t the first time Zara has been accused of racist behavior: Last summer the company issued a public apology in response to a child’s striped T-shirt that resembled a concentration camp uniform; it was criticized for selling necklaces made of figurines in black-face two years ago; and in 2007 a line of handbags featuring swastikas was pulled from store shelves.
Zara, founded in 1975 by Amancio Ortega (the world’s second-richest man with a net worth of $71.5 billion), operates more than 2,000 stores in 88 countries. More than a dozen new locations are expected to open in the U.S. this year, including a flagship in New York’s SoHo neighborhood and a 2,800-square-foot space in the Financial District’s redeveloped World Trade Center.