World No 1 female tennis player Serena Williams apparently is not immune from racist shop keepers
Racist managers at the high-end shoe designer Gianvito Rossi gave tennis superstar Serena Williams a smaller discount than ones granted white celebrities because the company does not want black women wearing its merchandise, a former employee alleges in a new suit.
Whitney Wilburn, 46, who was hired to oversee Rossi’s boutique business, alleges in a suit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court that she was marginalized and eventually fired because of the racism of Grace Mazzilli, the company’s global retail director.
As an example of the alleged racism, Wilburn points to managers’ reaction when Williams’ staff asked for a discount on her “extensive purchases,” papers read.
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“Gianvito Rossi 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,” according to the suit.
The managers called Williams “disgusting” and initially refused to offer any discount, papers read. Only after a “contact” at Vogue magazine intervened did the store grant the discount.
“They offered only a fraction of the discount that white celebrities typically receive,” papers read.
Whitney Wilburn, who was hired to oversee Rossi’s boutique business, alleges in a suit filed Thursday that she was marginalized because of the racism of Grace Mazzilli, the company’s global retail director.
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Whitney Wilburn, who is black, says she was recruited to work for Gianvito Rossi in 2015 from “another Madison Avenue fashion house” where she’d been for five years.
But once she was hired to run the Manhattan boutique, her boss, Grace Mazzilli, was immediately “hostile to Wilburn based upon her race and age,” the suit alleges.
Grace Mazzilli, the Gianvito Rossi global retail director, allegedly called Serena Williams ‘disgusting’ and refused to give her a discount on her purchases
Wilburn claims in the Manhattan civil suit that her “experience with Mazzilli left no doubt about Mazzilli’s racial animosity toward African Americans.” was typefied by the way and manner she disaparaged world famous athlete Serena Williams. Mazilli’s 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.
Wilburn also says Mazzilli, who is white, also “threw numerous elaborate dinner parties and social events for all boutiques managed by white employees … while never once holding an event for [her] Madison Avenue store.”
Wilburn was the only black employee in the company for a year-and-a-half, and when Mazzilli fired her “without warning or formal evaluation” in January 2017, she replaced her with a “much younger white manager,” the suit says.