On February 7, 2022, Wigdor LLP filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Courtney Flint, Senior Media Director at Gucci America, Inc. (“Gucci”), alleging pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.
In March 2021, Ms. Flint returned from job-protected maternity leave after giving birth to her third child. Suddenly Ms. Flint’s new boss, Selena Kalvaria, described her as not “engaged in her job” and not “proactive” — feedback that Ms. Flint had never before received in her fifteen years at the company, as alleged.
Ms. Kalvaria also warned Ms. Flint not to seek any further reasonable accommodations related to her newborn, according to the Charge. As alleged, Ms. Flint requested to temporarily work from home five days per week, with flexible hours, until she could arrange for appropriate childcare for her newborn. Meanwhile, all of Ms. Flint’s coworkers were working from home approximately four days per week due to the pandemic, the Charge states.
In October 2021, Ms. Kalvaria demoted Ms. Flint, slashing her job responsibilities and number of direct reports, as alleged. Ms. Kalvaria announced that Gucci would hire a new VP of Media who would effectively take over most of Ms. Flint’s responsibilities before she went on leave, according to the Charge. Remarkably, Ms. Kalvaria claimed that Ms. Flint was no longer “qualified” for the job she had performed for nearly half a decade, as alleged.
According to the Charge, Ms. Flint complained to Ms. Kalvaria, who did not deny her discriminatory intentions and instead told Ms. Flint that “things are very hard” for “working moms” who “have a lot of added burdens.”
Ms. Flint also complained to Gucci’s HR Department, as stated in the Charge. As alleged, an HR representative promptly encouraged Ms. Flint to quit, telling her that she was an “at will employee” and, therefore “free to leave.” The same HR representative also reminded Ms. Flint that, as an at-will employee, Gucci was “free to fire” her, as set forth in the Charge. Gucci then conducted a sham “investigation” that, predictably, found no evidence of discrimination, the Charge alleges.
Discrimination against working mothers appears to be part of the Gucci’s corporate culture, as stated in the Charge. In July 2010, Gucci fired a woman who had recently announced her pregnancy, as alleged. It also demoted “another pregnant employee,” as alleged. According to the Charge, a top Gucci executive at the time exclaimed, “Wow, all these pregnant girls, what are we going to do with all of them?”
Ms. Flint is represented by Wigdor LLP Partner Valdi Licul.
Statement from Valdi Licul, Partner at Wigdor LLP:
“More and more during the pandemic, we are seeing working mothers being singled out by their employers for requesting remote work or flexible schedules, even when their coworkers are allowed similar arrangements. This unlawful behavior is based on harmful, decades-old stereotypes that working mothers are somehow less committed to their jobs. We hope this complaint sends a loud message to Gucci and across corporate America that discrimination against women who take legally protected maternity leave has no place in today’s workplace.”
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