A Japanese court dismissed a sexual harassment and unfair dismissal suit against fashion house Prada after management told a female worker to lose weight and keep in shape.
Rina Bovrisse, 38, who also claimed a Prada human resources manager had branded her “ugly,” said she would appeal the case and that the ruling by a female judge at Tokyo District Court was unacceptable.
Bovrisse was demanding that Prada pay her ￥58 million (US$728,000) for emotional distress.
“This decision by the judge allows sexually harassing comment to be made at the workplace, like ‘you must lose weight,’” she told local journalists on Friday, after the case had finished.
“In a word, my impression about the ruling is that this is preposterous,” she said.
Bovrisse, a Japanese national married to a Frenchman, alleged that Prada Japan had pressured a number of female employees into resigning by describing them as “aged, ugly, fat, bad body shape, bad teeth, disgusting and not cute.”
According to Bovrisse, the firm told her through a human resources manager to change her hairstyle, lose weight and ensure that she fits the “Prada look.”
Prada officials had admitted having asked her to lose weight and told her that as a senior retail manager overseeing 40 stores in Japan and two in Guam and Saipan, keeping in shape was essential, the Japan Times reported.
Presiding judge Ayako Morioka, however, dismissed the case saying that Bovrisse had failed to establish her claim that the fashion house had called her “ugly.”
Rather, the judge said, the firm had the right to dismiss her as she may have damaged the brand’s image by telling the media that the company had called her ugly.
Prada has a pending countersuit against Bovrisse, claiming defamation.
“There was no rationale to believe the core of the information [that she gave to the Japan Times in 2010] was true,” the judge said.
The court acknowledged that the human resources manager had told her the firm wished her to lose weight, but, while the comment was inconsiderate, it should not have caused distress so severe that warranted the seeking of compensation, the judge ruled.
The Japan Times, the nation’s main English-language newspaper, said yesterday it had published an article in March 2010 on Bovrisse’s claims.
After the ruling, Bovrisse told reporters that the judge in June had yelled at her and promised to rule against her, when she declined the court’s recommendation to settle the matter out of the court, the Japan Times said.