A former employee of a French high-fashion house who worked at the company’s store in Beverly Hills is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was fired for complaining about inappropriate remarks and conduct by management, including showing favoritism to young, male gay employees.
Gulmira Isacoff’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Lanvin alleges wrongful termination, hostile work environment, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation and various state Labor Code violations.
Isacoff, 50, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Friday. A Lanvin representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Isacoff was hired in October 2018 as a sales associate at the store on Rodeo Drive and soon became one of the store’s top producers, building relationships with several wealthy clients, according to the suit.
However, problems began for Isacoff in December 2019 with the hiring of Dean Salkin as a new assistant manager, a man who often lost his temper and yelled at the plaintiff and other female workers, the suit states.
Salkin called Isacoff “lazy” and said she would be better off working at Macy’s, the suit alleges.
Believing the comments were sexist, Isacoff complained to the store manager, Jordyn Wells, and the company’s commercial director, Paolo Montorio, the suit states. However, nothing was changed and Salkin continued his harassment, including making a lewd suggestion to the plaintiff about how she and her husband could celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020, the suit states.
After hearing the inappropriate remark several more times, Isacoff reached her breaking point and said to Salkin, “Don’t you understand you’re offending and disrespecting me? Please stop. I am done with you,” according to the suit.
Although the company’s human resources representatives in Paris eventually fired Salkin, no one apologized to Isacoff or asked if there was anything they could do, the suit states.
In June 2020, Lanvin hired a new store manager, David Leonti, who from the start seemed biased against Isacoff and treated her disparagingly whenever they interacted, including by saying he was “shocked” to see a woman as old as her working for Lanvin, the suit states.
Over time, Isacoff found that Leonti had a strong preference for young, male gay workers, treating them far better than any of the female heterosexual employees, the suit states. When customers walked into the store, Leonti allegedly almost always directed them to two gay male workers and excluded Isacoff and other women from closing a sale.
After another female employee complained when a male gay employee allegedly assaulted her with a handbag, Leonti told the woman her assailant was “horsing around” and urged her to calm down, the suit states.
“By contrast, (Isacoff) was immediately suspended and fired just because she had opposed Mr. Leonti’s discriminatory practices and complained about it,” the suit states. “The juxtaposition is both shocking and telling.”
Lanvin is the third-oldest French fashion house still in operation.