Prada, manager fail to come to settlement in harassment case

by Minoru Matsutani

Prada Japan’s senior retail manager said Saturday she had failed to reach a settlement with the Italian fashion label in a dispute alleging the company harassed her and other employees.

The manager, Rina Bovrisse, told The Japan Times she will prepare to take further legal action against the company.

The case was handled by an industrial tribunal, a streamlined system for resolving labor disputes without trial. If no settlement is reached through the tribunal, the parties involved can opt to proceed with a civil suit to seek a court ruling.

“I am planning to collect more witnesses and file a lawsuit as soon as possible,” Bovrisse said, adding this process may take a month or two.

In December, Bovrisse, who alleged Prada Japan CEO Davide Sesia and Human Resources Manager Hiroyuki Takahashi discriminated against employees based on their appearance, filed a labor complaint with the Tokyo District Court demanding compensation for emotional distress and cancellation of her demotion and leave.

Bovrisse, who has been on involuntary leave since November, was notified Saturday by Prada Japan, the local unit of the world-famous brand, that she will be fired Monday on the grounds that she made false accusations against the company.

Bovrisse has alleged that Sesia asked her to “eliminate” about 15 shop managers and assistant managers he described as being “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or not having the Prada look” last May. Most of them chose to quit after the human resources manager issued transfer orders that amounted to demotions, she said.

In the complaint, Bovrisse alleged that she was verbally abused regarding her appearance by Takahashi, who delivered Sesia’s message to her, and that the company forced its employees to purchase Prada products with their own money.

Prada Japan and Prada Milan headquarters have denied Bovrisse’s allegations.