06/06/2011 04:03 pm ET | Updated Aug 06, 2011

Josephine Robinson Sues Gucci Over Alleged Racist Practices

Josephine Robinson, a former tax lawyer for Gucci, is suing the fashion house for $5 million in damages after supposedly being subjected to racist comments and complaining about the treatment, allegedly resulting in her firing last year, the New York Post reports.

Robinson, who identifies as a "dark-skinned West Indian Latina," also claims that she was told to pilfer more money from pop Rihanna, who posed for the brand back in 2008, after her superiors found out that the pop star was from Barbados. The Post writes:

Robinson says she was working on Rihanna's contract with the Italian fashion house in 2008 when she got the shocking directive from her boss, international tax counsel Stan Sherwood.

"When Sherwood discovered that Rihanna was from a Caribbean island, he told Robinson to 'tax the hell out of her' and find a way to allow Gucci to withhold 30 percent of her fee," according to Robinson's suit.

"Ms. Robinson's allegations are well documented in emails and taped conversations," said Lenard Leeds, another of her lawyers.


Robinson, claims in her suit that Gucci America assistant general counsel Stefania Sicari advised her that if she continued to complain about harassment or discrimination, "you are asking to be fired." Sicari, according to the suit, also told Robinson that Gucci "has a high tolerance for racism."


Robinson claimed Sherwood often referred to her "cheap day labor," called her a "loose woman" and told interns that he picked her off the street. He also is alleged to have called her a prostitute, according to the suit.

She further alleged that Sherwood complained of receiving unfavorable accommodations at a corporate retreat in Italy, because of her race and frequently referred to her as "black, very very black."

A spokeswoman for Gucci told the Post, "Ms. Robinson's allegations are completely baseless, and the company will defend itself vigorously against this meritless litigation. The company is confident that it will prevail."