BEVERLY HILLS—A former Jimmy Choo store employee is suing his former supervisor and brand creator Jimmy Choo alleging he received harassment and faced discriminatory behavior. According to the employee, when he went and complained about the treatment he received he was fired.
John Ornelas filed the lawsuit on April 15 against his former supervisor Nikki Raffasha and Jimmy Choo on allegedly being fired and facing discrimination based on his sexual orientation and race.
The 40-year-old Latino employee starting working for the company back in 2011 as a sales associate at a different store. The following year he started working at the Beverly Hills store. According to the suit he filed after a month working there, Raffasha started calling him names and mocking him. Ornelas identifies as a gay man. Allegedly she used derogatory terms to refer to his homosexuality and Hispanic background.
Ornelas also stated that Raffasha called him derogatory words after his partner of 12 years died. He indicated that he notified management several times about the alleged treatment he received. Allegedly Raffasha took one of Ornelas sales and reported the sale as one of her own. Ornelas told his boss about the situation and the sale was credited to him. According to his court documents, he was fired two days after the incident. Allegedly Raffasha commented saying, “they will always choose me over some gay Mexican trash like you.”
Ornelas is being represented by Shegerian and Associates, Inc. The law firm is based in Santa Monica and they specialize in dealing with employee rights. According to their website, they have a 95 percent success rate. Other cases the law firm has taken on include Bikram Choudhury who is the founder of Hot Yoga, as well as a case involving musician Elton John, the restaurant chain Chipotle and several others. Shegerian describes Ornelas’ case as a distinct violation of the labor code and an example of egregious wrongful termination coupled with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and on the basis of race.
Canyon News spoke with Ornelas’ lawyer Carney R. Shegerian. “The treatment that Mr. Ornelas endured by his supervisor at Jimmy Choo was despicable,” said Shegerian.
“And when he tried to do something about it, he was wrongfully terminated. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of a successful company not following its own rules, let alone the labor code – and costing a hard-working exemplary employee his livelihood and emotional distress in the process. People in positions of power harassing and discriminating against their employees is a huge problem that simply must stop. It’s our job to help Mr. Ornelas seek justice and hopefully make a public statement that this kind of abuse – in any workplace – cannot be tolerated.”
Canyon News was unable to get a comment from corporate at Jimmy Choo regarding the suit filed against the company. Jimmy Choo is known for selling luxury shoes, handbags, accessories and fragrances.