Shoe Designer Accused Of Racism Towards Serena Williams In Disparaging Lawsuit

A former employee of shoe designer Gianvito Rossi has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit with details about the designer’s opinion of people and color and Serena Williams.

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The New York Post reports Whitney Wilburn filed the suit Friday (May 19), accusing former boss  Grace Mazzilli and Rossi of racism and ageism. The 46-year-old says she was terminated from the Manhattan-based store in 2015 without any clear reason. In addition to allegedly being left out of company meetings and events, she stated Rossi had a strong dislike for black people and didn’t want them wearing her luxury shoes.

The most troubling portion of the suit are claims of racism towards Serena Williams. Wilburn says Rossi didn’t want Williams wearing her shoes for a Vogue shoot, but changed her mind after the representative from Vogue directly requested the shoes for the athlete. “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,” the suit says. The company also offered a discount lighted than Caucasian celebrities.

Ross reached out to Allure, denying the accusations.”Gianvito Rossi further regrets that this former employee chose to conflate her own claims with allegations about our relationship with Ms. Serena Williams who we have the honor of having as our client,” the statement reads. “Gianvito Rossi has the pleasure of having relationships with international celebrities without any distinction.”

Stars of color like Dasha Polanco, Cardi B and Gabourey Sidibe have shared horror stories about luxury brands refusing to work with them due to their skin color and size. Serena hasn’t commented on the claims due to the fact that she’s too busy living her best life, so time will only tell is Rossi’s business will sink into the ground.

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