A former Gucci retail employee is suing the luxury house for $10 million, claiming a store manager’s sexual harassment escalated to the point of him exposing himself, but went essentially ignored by higher-ups.
Chanel Falasco told an Illinois federal court on Friday that during most of her two-and-a-half years working as a salesperson at the Gucci flagship in downtown Chicago, an assistant store manager identified as “Byrne” frequently made “flirtatious overtures and sexually suggestive comments” to her.
These included explicit remarks about her physical appearance, leading to Byrne regularly referring to Falasco as “Booty,” even on the sales floor and in the presence of other managerial staff, according to the complaint.
A Gucci spokesman offered: “As a company policy we do not comment publicly on personnel-related matters.”
Although Falasco claims to have gone to the store’s selling supervisor and complained of Byrne’s conduct at least twice, she was told to “brush him off,” “ignore it,” and to “avoid working with him.”
After these complaints, Falasco alleges that while she was looking for merchandise that a customer planned to pick up, Byrne exposed himself to her, according to the complaint. Byrne joined Falasco in the storeroom because, as a company policy, only Gucci management are allowed keys to the space, and Byrne was the only manager on duty at the time.
Falasco said there was no human resources staff at the Chicago store and when she asked Gucci’s operations coordinator for corporate HR contact information, she was “balked” at.
Not long after the storeroom incident, Falasco said she was up for her annual performance review, which was led by Byrne and the store manager Amy Hannaford. Byrne allegedly told Falasco alone that her review would have been more favorable had she gone along with his sexual proposition.
Byrne was soon given a position of store manager at the Gucci store in Coral Gables, Fla.
Although Falasco resigned her position at Gucci in February 2016, she went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the following month with complaints of gender discrimination.
The EEOC subsequently launched an investigation into the store and determined this past February that there is “cause to believe” Falasco was discriminated against due to her sex. As is required, the EEOC attempted to resolve the matter with Gucci out of court, but it was unsuccessful. Falasco received a right to sue Gucci in July.
She is asking for unspecified damages in excess of $10 million on claims of a hostile work environment caused by sexual harassment, quid pro quo sexual harassment and negligent supervision on the part of Gucci.
While it’s unclear if Byrne is still with the company, Gucci in late August posted a job listing for a store manager in Coral Gables.
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