SANTA MONICA—A former Santa Monica Lululemon employee is suing the retail giant over alleged sexual harassment from her boss.
Shayla Famouri, a USC student who used to work at the Lululemon store located at Third Street Promenade, filed a $3 million suit against the retail store on Tuesday, December 19. She accused both her supervisor and the store, calling out the inappropriate behavior directed at her in 2016, as well as labeling the store as “the perfect environment for a sexual predator to operate.”
The Lululemon company encourages brand use beyond business hours and hosts workout programs in the morning. Famouri says that her supervisor, Philip Silva, texted and pressured her to attend the programs with him. The suit states that “Silva attempted to meet with Famouri so frequently, under the guise of working out, that every time Famouri could not oblige, she felt that it was reflecting negatively on her work performance.”
Famouri met with Silva after a workout program called “Sweat Week,” the Santa Monica Daily Press reported. According to Famouri, they had breakfast and Silva quickly switched the topic of conversation to sex. According to the suit, Famouri noted “gossip about dating and hook ups were rampant amongst employees at Lululemon. Parties and outings were regularly held during which employees drank to excess and hooked up with one another.”
After Silva tried and failed multiple times to commence a relationship with her, Famouri indicated in an exchange over sushi that she was not interested. Famouri drove Silva home, where he asked her to come inside so he could apologize. When she did, he reportedly pinned her down and raped her.
Famouri reported the incident to the store manager several weeks after it transpired, and asked to take time off. According to Famouri, a human resources representative pressured her to resign and take a payout. She decided not show up to work. Famouri reported the assault to the Hermosa Police Department, but charges were not filed by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
The suit describes the store as an environment with a normalized culture of sexual harassment. According to the suit, Famouri’s “managers and supervisors constantly admonished her for wearing clothes that were not tight or revealing enough, in their opinion.” According to the suit, Lululemon managers were aware of Silva’s behavior and did not fire him:
“Well before Famouri was assaulted, Lululemon’s managers received complaints that Silva had engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with his female subordinates including making vulgar sexual comments, groping subordinates, propositioning subordinates, and pinning at least one woman to a wall.” Silva was moved from store to store, ending up at Famouri’s in 2015.
“In 2016, Shayla Famouri raised serious allegations regarding the behavior of another employee. Upon learning of these allegations, the company initiated a comprehensive and in-depth investigation. The accused employee was immediately suspended; and then resigned. Nevertheless, the company saw the investigation through to completion, ultimately finding that the accused employee did engage in behavior that was not in line with our standards of conduct,” Lululemon indicated in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“At lululemon, harassment and discrimination have no place in our community. Our culture is founded on us all positively contributing to an environment rooted in our values, which includes a commitment to working with integrity and a collective dedication to creating a respectful workplace. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that employees come to work each day in safe environments where they are empowered to speak up,” the company indicated in a statement.
Silva has since been fired from the company, BuzzFeed News reported that Silva is currently working as a personal trainer at Equinox Gym.