The case was brought by Amro Alsoleibi, a former Plein regional manager, who in February 2021, as reported by WWD at the time, sued the designer and the American arm of his brand in a New York court, claiming Alsoleibi was discriminated against in the workplace and retaliated against, ultimately resulting in his wrongful firing.
Plein denies the allegations.
In a separate case, of Talal Atassi v. Philipp Plein Americas, the Supreme Court of New York denied Atassi’s motion for summary judgment on April 6. Atassi is seeking compensation from Plein for recruitment services allegedly rendered through an agreement signed by Alsoleibi. The court, in denying summary judgment for Atassi, held that there were still factual questions on whether Alsoleibi was authorized to sign the contract on behalf of Plein. Atassi declined to comment on the court’s decision.
While Atassi’s case now moves toward trial, it has no bearing on the allegations of homophobic behavior and discrimination made by Alsoleibi in his own case against Plein.
An article in WWD on April 15 incorrectly stated that Plein had been cleared of those allegations.
Alsoleibi’s attorney said, “Mr. Atassi’s lawsuit is an entirely separate matter, and this decision does not impact Mr. Alsoleibi’s claims against Philipp Plein and Philipp Plein Americas. Mr. Alsoleibi’s case is still in its early stages. We are confident that when this case does eventually make it in front of a jury, they will confirm the allegations that Mr. Alsoleibi was subjected to a hostile work environment on the basis of his sexual orientation and disability.”
Carmine Rotondaro, Plein’s business adviser, sent this statement to WWD: “Having regard to the relation between the Plein Group and Mr. Alsoleibi, the recent court decision [in the Atassi case] notes that ‘[Plein]’s termination of Alsoleibi shortly after discovering the contract casts serious doubt on the scope of his authority, an issue that must be resolved at trial. Nor, on the present record, can [Plein] be said to have ratified the contract by hiring candidates procured by Atassi; Alsoleibi concealed Atassi’s existence from defendant until shortly before he was terminated.’
“The above findings of the court,” Rotondaro’s statement continued, “explicitly address the circumstances of the termination of Mr. Alsoleibi’s employment and point at a behavior (trying to bind the employer without authority and concealing from the employer the existence of the allegedly hired service provider) which clearly constitutes serious and sufficient ground for the termination of Mr. Alsoleibi. This misconduct was the reason why the employment of Mr. Alsoleibi was justifiably terminated. Any allegation to the contrary, including employment termination on grounds of sexual orientation or health status, appears inconsistent with the court’s decision.”