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Serena Williams Faced Alleged Discrimination from Famous Shoe Brand

Serena Williams may be the queen of the tennis court, but a manager at Gianvito Rossi allegedly wasn’t here for the famous tennis player.

Not even a few weeks after Chanel issued and apology to Gabourey Sidibe about her horrible experience at one of their Chicago boutiques, a former employee of Gianvito Rossi claims Serena Williams received similar treatment from their management team.

According to the N.Y. Post, a former African American employee of Gianvito Rossi, Whitney Wilburn, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company. In her lawsuit, Wilburn alleges that her boss Grace Mazilli was “hostile to Wilburn based upon her race and age .” In her suit, Wilburn states:

“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.They then referred to Ms. Williams as ‘disgusting’ and refused to offer any discount.”

According to Wilburn, it was only after pressure from a contact at the elite fashion magazine Vogue that the management offered Williams a discount that was “a fraction of the discount white celebrities typically receive.” Wilburn was allegedly the only African American employee at the Madison Avenue location for over a year and a half.

This lawsuit comes after Wilburn was reportedly fired “without warning or formal evaluation” in January of 2017. According to the N.Y. Post, when contacted the company did not respond. The Manager in question was also contacted but was unable to comment because “she is out of the country” according to an employee at the Madison Avenue boutique.

Although this doesn’t come as a surprise to any of us who have endured racial discrimination while shopping, as employees should we really keep accepting this treatment in the workplace? Being afraid of rocking the boat or retaliation is the biggest reason why employees do not open their mouths about this type of treatment. It is so sad that in the 21st-century people are faced with losing their jobs and being treated like a decent human being.

There is no word on whether Williams will continue purchasing from the brand, but after hearing these allegations, it wouldn’t be surprising if she took her business elsewhere.

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