In-House Counsel

Former Tax Lawyer at Gucci Claims Racism and Cites Rihanna Incident as an Example

A former tax lawyer at Gucci America Inc. claims she was fired after complaining about racist and sexual harassment at the company, and cites an alleged incident involving pop star Rihanna as an example of the problems.

The plaintiff is Josephine Robinson, a West Indian woman who formerly worked at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, report Reuters, Forbes’ TaxGirl column and the New York Post.

Robinson claims her boss, international tax counsel Stan Sherwood, directed Robinson to “tax the hell out of” Rihanna after discovering the singer was from Barbados. Rihanna was being paid for a photo shoot to promote a Gucci accessory collection, and she didn’t want taxes to be withheld, Robinson’s lawyer, Rick Ostrove, told the New York Post. Sherwood is accused of directing Robinson to find a way to withhold 30 percent of Rihanna’s fee.

Robinson also claims Sherwood often referred to her as “black, very black,” and called her “cheap day labor,” a “loose woman” and a “f—ing bitch,” according to the Forbes and Reuters accounts. When she complained, she was told she was “asking to be fired,” the suit says. Robinson says she was hospitalized because the harassment caused anxiety and depression.

Gucci says allegations in the $5 million suit are “completely baseless” and the company is confident it will prevail.

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