Former Prada employee Rina Bovrisse’s four-year-long legal battle with Prada Japan over alleged sexual harassment and discrimination has come back into the news recently, when Prada countersued Bovrisse for damaging its image, and a Change.org petition was launched to persuade Prada to drop the countersuit.
One example of the discrimination Bovrisse witnessed while at Prada’s Japan office was a human resources executive ordering the demotion and transfer of numerous employees, mostly women, because they were “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or did not have the Prada look.” She sued the company after she raised concern about the treatment of her co-workers, and alleges that she was subsequently criticized for her own appearance, demoted and urged to resign. A Tokyo court ruled in Prada’s favor in November.
In April, with over 80,000 signatures (there are now over 200,000) on her Change.org petition, Bovrisse brought her case to the UN. Buzzfeed got ahold of the UN’s official response to Bovrisse’s testimony, which urges Japan to make sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace illegal:
The Committee urges the State party to introduce in its legislation an offence of sexual harassment, in particular in the workplace, which carries sanctions proportionate to the severity of the offence. The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure that victims can lodge complaints without fear of retaliation. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to raise the public awareness against sexual harassment.
Bovrisse, happy with the ruling, told Buzzfeed, “I hope Miuccia Prada realizes we live in 2013, that the power of social networking and individual voice can [bring attention to] any brands for doing the wrong thing… I am a happier person now not wearing brands to identify myself.”
Still, the battle’s not over yet and needless to say it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.