Zara USA’s Ex-GC Files Suit

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By Ellen Rosen

June 4 — The former general counsel of Zara USA Inc. has sued the fashion retailer, accusing it of firing him because he's Jewish, American and gay.

In a lawsuit filed June 3 in New York Supreme Court, Ian Jack Miller alleged that senior executives “openly used racial slurs and exchanged racist e-mails” in the New York office of the company. Miller claimed further that both supervisors and colleagues sent him graphic e-mails and frequently made homophobic comments both in general and to him personally.

Zara is owned by Spanish-based Inditex Group, the world's largest clothing retailer.

In an e-mailed statement, Zara said the allegations “are shocking, and—although we have not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit—we will respond strongly and vigorously to these allegations in the court.”

The company doesn't “tolerate any behavior that is discriminatory or disrespectful,” according to the statement.

Job in Jeopardy

Miller, who was the top lawyer of Zara's U.S. operations for seven years, said the alleged conduct worsened after the executives learned of his religion. He alleges in the complaint that colleagues made “derogatory remarks about Jews” as well as “sudden and unprompted inquiries concerning Mr. Miller's own religious beliefs.”

Miller's attorney, Alexandra Harwin of Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP, told Bloomberg News June 3 that in 2014 her client began to discuss the alleged behavior of his colleagues, including the most senior executives, with the top lawyer at Inditex. The conduct continued and by March, the company lawyer told him his job was in jeopardy, Harwin said.

Miller, who alleges violations of both New York city and state labor and human rights laws, seeks in excess of $40 million in damages.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

The complaint is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/IAN_J_MILLER_vs_ZARA_USA_INC_ ET_AL_Docket_No_ 1555122015_NY_Sup_Ct.

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