A Gucci employee has accused the company of pregnancy discrimination, alleging that she was met with ‘derogatory remarks’ when she returned from maternity leave and was soon demoted from a position she had held for five years.
Courtney Flint, Senior Media Director at Gucci America and a 17-year employee of the company, says that since she returned from maternity leave early last year, she has been accused of being less engaged with work, given an unfair performance review, demoted, and warned against seeking reasonable accommodations.
She also claims that her concerns dismissed by HR, who allegedly told her she was free to quit if she didn’t like it.
This week, lawyers at Wigdor LLP filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Gucci on Flint’s behalf, alleging pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference and retaliation.
A Gucci employee has accused the company of pregnancy discrimination in an EEOC complaint filed by her lawyers this week
Courtney Flint (pictured in 2015) says that since she returned from maternity leave, she has been accused of being less engaged with work, given an unfair performance review, demoted, and warned against seeking reasonable accommodations
Flint has worked for Gucci since 2005, when she started as a Local Media Planner. She has been promoted several times, and in 2017 earned her current title of Senior Media Director of Brand Engagement.
In November 2020, she gave birth to her third child and went on maternity leave, from which she returned in March 2021.
According to her complaint, which was filed in New York, Gucci ‘greeted Flint with derogatory remarks concerning her pregnancy’ upon her return.
One such remark came from Gucci CEO Susan Chokachi, who allegedly asked Flint if she ‘need[ed] time to build up her stamina after having [her] third child.’
Flint says Chokachi asked her the same thing again a month later, and claims Chokachi was accusing Flint of being less productive.
Flint (left) claims her new boss, Selena Kalvaria (right), took away most of her responsibilities and then advertised a new position with those responsibilities
At the time, all of Flint’s colleagues were working from home most the time, about four or five days a week.
Flint asked to be allowed to work from home five days a week and maintain flexible hours until she could arrange for childcare.
But she claims her new boss, Selena Kalvaria, told her not to ask for anything else.
‘Kalvaria … warned Flint not to seek any further reasonable accommodations related to Flint’s newborn, or they would need to have a “larger discussion,”‘ reads the complaint.
Flint also alleges that during a September 2021 performance review, she received negative feedback she’d never received before.
In the review, Kalvaria described Flint as ‘not completely engage[d]’ and not ‘proactive.’
‘Flint was forced to defend against Kalvaria’s discriminatory attitude that Flint, as a working mother, was somehow less committed to her job, explaining that she had been working tirelessly to help transition Kalvaria into her new role while continuing to perform her existing job responsibilities,’ reads the complaint.
Flint said Gucci ‘greeted Flint with derogatory remarks concerning her pregnancy’ upon her return. She said Gucci CEO Susan Chokachi (pictured) asked her if she ‘need[ed] time to build up her stamina after having [her] third child’
But soon after receiving the criticism, in October 2021, Flint says Kalvaria ‘promptly demoted’ her, downgrading her responsibilities to about 25% of what she had been doing before.
Flint claims she also lost some of her direct reports.
Kalvaria then began the process of hiring for a new position, with Flint says took over most of her previous responsibilities.
When Flint tried to apply for it, she was told she was not ‘qualified.’
When Flint complaint to Kalvaria, she alleges that Kalvaria ‘did not deny her discriminatory intentions’ and told her that ‘things are hard very hard’ for ‘working moms’ who ‘have a lot of added burdens.’
Flint says she also complained to HR, who allegedly encouraged her to quit, telling her that she was an ‘at will employee’ and was ‘free to leave.’
Flint (pictured in 2014 during a different pregnancy) complained to HR but was told she was encouraged to quit if she didn’t like it
HR did perform an investigation, but found ‘no evidence’ of discrimination.
Flint’s complaint asks the EEOC to investigate Gucci for discrimination and retaliation against Flint in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Gucci for comment.
Valdi Licul, a partner at Wigdor LLP, says the charges against Gucci are part of a wider problem of mothers being singled out by employers.
‘More and more during the pandemic, we are seeing working mothers being singled out by their employers for requesting remote work or flexible schedules, even when their coworkers are allowed similar arrangements,’ he said in a statement.
‘This unlawful behavior is based on harmful, decades-old stereotypes that working mothers are somehow less committed to their jobs. We hope this complaint sends a loud message to Gucci and across corporate America that discrimination against women who take legally protected maternity leave has no place in today’s workplace.’
Flint’s complaint asks the EEOC to investigate Gucci for discrimination and retaliation against Flint in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Flint pictured right in 2017)
Flint’s position at the company appears to have changed quite a bit since November 2015, when she was interviewed by Motherly for a piece titled ‘How my work at Gucci makes me a better mother.’
At the time, she had just two children, sons Redding (then 3 1/2 years) and Ozzie (then 17 months).
‘I love the Gucci brand and the fashion and publishing industries,’ she said. ‘My work has also made me a better mother.
‘When I am with my kids I try to be totally engaged and conscious and I am totally focused on work when at my office.
‘Becoming a mother has made me better at my job. I appreciate my work so much and I am much more efficient,’ she said.
She also gave some insight into her childcare situation at the time, saying that she and her husband employed two part-time nannies.