Zara might be enjoying strong sales numbers this spring, but it appears there’s some major trouble brewing on the legal front. This week, Reuters reported that the Spanish mega-retailer is being sued by its former employee Ian Miller, who claims that he was discriminated against and harassed by the company on the basis of his ethnicity and sexual orientation. Miller served as a general-counsel attorney for Zara U.S.A. in New York from 2008 until 2015. He alleges that during that time, he was excluded from meetings, given smaller raises than other employees, and subjected to “racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic remarks.” What’s more, this discrimination allegedly was condoned at the very top: by Zara’s founder, Amancio Ortega Gaona. Miller claims that the senior-level employees who harassed him were protected from punishment by Ortega. And when he raised these concerns about how he was treated to the higher-ups, he was fired.
Miller’s attorney, David Sanford, argues that the firing was based upon his background, rather than performance. "Zara overlooked Mr. Miller’s stellar performance, marginalized his role in the company, and gave him lower raises than employees who fit the company’s preferred profile." As for this "preferred profile"? According to Reuters, it's Christian, Spanish, and straight. Miller's case, which was filed on Wednesday, sues the business (along with various supervisors) for pay discrimination, wrongful discharge, retaliation, and hostile work environment. Zara's parent company, Inditex SA — a.k.a., the largest fashion retailer in the world — released a statement saying that it was "shocked" by these charges. "We do not tolerate any behavior that is discriminatory or disrespectful," said a brand representative to the NY Post. However, this isn't the first time that Zara has been in hot water. Among other major missteps, last year the store had to stop selling its “Sheriff”-badge T-shirt, which bore a striking similarity to the Star of David tops worn by concentration-camp inmates during the Holocaust. Miller's case against Zara is heading to court in the coming months, and we’ll update this post with more information as soon as we receive it. (Reuters)