Galliano attended a hearing today at Paris's Conseil de prud’hommes, or Labor Relations Court, in which the court ruled in favor of the disgraced designer and agreed to hear his case against his former employer.
Galliano filed an employee/employer dispute against Dior and his namesake label John Galliano, both still owned by LVMH, back in August. However Jean Néret of Jeantet Associés, the lawyer representing Christian Dior Couture and John Galliano (the label not the person--confusing we know), contested the court filing, arguing the case should be heard by a commercial court, rather than a labor court, because of the complicated nature of the contracts linking Galliano with the two firms.
Néret claimed that since Galliano was linked to the two labels by a multitude of contracts, some of which included consultancy agreements, he was more of an independent contractor than a subordinate. Therefore, Néret argued, the Labor Relations court was not qualified to hear the case.
“John Galliano was no ordinary employee. In fact, I would go as far as saying he wasn’t an employee at all,” said Néret. “The complexity of his various contracts is sharply at odds with the image of a poor, defenseless employee which the opposing party is trying to project.”
However, Galliano's lawyer Chantal Giraud-van Gaver argued that there's no way the designer could have been considered a mere subcontractor, because his contracts with both Dior and his namesake label included exclusivity clauses. She also pointed out that Christian Dior Couture owned 91 percent of John Galliano, and that the designer was given several perks that likely would not have been granted to a subcontractor.
“Mister Galliano is perhaps no ordinary employee, due to the nature of his position and his notoriety, but he is an employee nonetheless,” she argued. “Would an external provider be supplied with a car and a chauffeur? Would he have a coach and a personal assistant? Would the company grant him stock options?”
(As a side note, the case revealed the many perks that a designer gets, including a combined annual clothing budget from both labels of 100,000 euros or, $135,260, and more.)
We asked our friends over at Above the Law why the two parties would dispute where the court case would be heard and one theory is that "specialized labor courts are sometimes more pro-employee than commercial courts, which may explain why Galliano wanted the dispute heard in a labor court while Dior wanted it heard in a commercial court."
Additionally, there wouldn't be as much protection for a subcontractor--essentially a free aggent--than for a regular employee.
Whatever the case, the court sided with Galliano, and rejected Dior's claims to try to case in a Commercial Court. “For the time being, we are winning," Giraud-van Gaver told WWD.
As for how much Galliano is actually suing for, Giraud-van Gaver declined to say exactly, but when pressed estimated that it would be for close to 6 million euros, or $7.77 million.
She added that the exact amount will depend on what case the court will agree to hear: "There are several arguments. One is based on nullity, one takes into account his health, one argues that his dismissal was ill-founded, so depending on what the court retains, there are different degrees of compensation involved,” she said.
Galliano did not make a statement during or after the court case, though WWD notes he was smiling when he left the courtroom. Dior has 15 days to contest the ruling--if they do, the case will drag on for even longer. Dior has not publicly commented on the case yet.