"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 claims.
The former GR employee explains that although white celeb customers are frequently given discounts, Serena was denied the very same privilege, and following her request, GR managers called her "disgusting" for even asking.
The employee, Whitney Wilburn, who is black, said she was recruited to work for Gianvito Rossi in 2015 but once she started working, her boss Grace Mazzilli was immediately "hostile to Wilburn based upon her race and age". Wilburn, 46, also claims she experienced racism and was eventually fired by the company's global retail director, Grace Mazzilli.
She was the only black employee in the company for a year-and-a-half, the suit says.
Apparently, due to pressure from sources at Vogue magazine, Gianvito Rossi offered Williams a fraction of the discount, as stated in court documents.
Williams, Rossi and the store's namesake designer have not commented on the matter, while a boutique employee told the New York Post Mazzilli was unable to comment since she was traveling in Italy.
Wilburn who is also Black, says Mazzilli reduced her responsibilities and sabotaged her until she was sacked in January. "Gianvito Rossi has the pleasure of having relationships with worldwide celebrities without any distinction".
When Mazzilli fired Wilburn "without warning or formal evaluation" in January 2017, she replaced her with a "much younger white manager", the suit says. Wilburn says her termination was issued "without rational basis".