A former lawyer for Gucci who worked on singer Rihanna’s contract with the design firm claims her superior discriminated against the Barbados-born singer because of her Caribbean heritage, according to the text of a complaint filed in federal court in New York City obtained by Caribbean Journal.
According to the suit, the plaintiff, Josephine Robinson, who is described as a dark-skinned, Latin female of West Indian origin, began working for Gucci as a tax attorney in 2008. In the summer of 2008, Robinson was working on a contract for Rihanna, but when her supervising attorney, Stan Sherwood, discovered that Rihanna was from a Caribbean island, he allegedly told Robinson to “tax the hell out of her” and to determine a way for Gucci to withhold 30 percent of her fee.
“I think it’s unfortunate that people who are lawyers and top-level officials would engage in this sort of behavior,” Robinson’s attorney, Rick Ostrove, a partner at New York firm Leeds, Morreli & Brown, told Caribbean Journal.
The lawsuit also alleges a series of discriminatory incidents by Gucci against Robinson based on her ethnicity, including an alleged pattern of discriminatory treatment of Robinson that saw her end up in the hospital, and ultimately terminated from employment.
The suit names Sherwood, along with Gucci America and two other Gucci employees, Matteo Mascazzini and Christy Leleck, as defendants.
At this time, it was not clear whether Rihanna would eventually be called as a witness in the case.
“The answer is, I don’t know, we’ll have to see how the case plays out,” Ostrove said.
Robinson is seeking $5 million as compensation in the case.