A New Lawsuit Alleges Lululemon Knowingly Let A Serial Harasser Work At Its Stores

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Lululemon Athletica, the Vancouver-based retailer recognized for its stylish exercise clothes, promoted and relocated a serial sexual harasser to a brand new retailer location, the place he went on to sexually harass and assault a employee, in accordance a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

When the corporate heard in regards to the assault, its human assets division then tried to comb it beneath the rug, the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles’ Superior Courtroom claims.

The swimsuit, filed on behalf of Shayla Famouri, a part-time employee on the firm from 2014 to 2016, towards Philip Silva, a former Lululemon worker, and the corporate, describes the $2.three billion enterprise as “the proper atmosphere for a sexual predator.” Famouri is in search of $three million in damages for sexual assault, sexual harassment, violating honest employment legal guidelines, and making a hostile work atmosphere.

Along with the harassment and assault allegations, Famouri’s lawsuit additionally argues that administration encourages feminine workers to decorate in tight garments, work out with coworkers, settle for hookups between bosses and subordinates as par for the course after a wild night time of consuming, and look the opposite manner when workers make lewd and sexualizing remarks.

A Lululemon spokesperson instructed BuzzFeed Information that “in 2016, Shayla Famouri raised critical allegations concerning the conduct of one other worker.”

“Upon studying of those allegations, the corporate initiated a complete and in-depth investigation,” the spokesperson added. “The accused worker was instantly suspended; after which resigned. Nonetheless, the corporate noticed the investigation by means of to completion, in the end discovering that the accused worker did interact in conduct that was not consistent with our requirements of conduct.”

“At lululemon, harassment and discrimination haven’t any place in our group,” the spokesperson continued. “Our tradition is based on us all positively contributing to an atmosphere rooted in our values, which features a dedication to working with integrity and a collective dedication to making a respectful office. We’re dedicated to doing every part we are able to to make sure that workers come to work every day in secure environments the place they’re empowered to talk up.”

Silva declined to remark to BuzzFeed Information.


Getty Pictures/Ben A. Pruchnie

Famouri, now 28, instructed BuzzFeed Information that when she joined the corporate in November 2014 as a seasonal gross sales affiliate within the flagship Santa Monica location, she appreciated the corporate’s wholesome dwelling ethos and shortly made buddies. She deliberate on becoming a member of Lululemon’s company division in advertising and marketing after she completed her enterprise diploma at College of Southern California.

However these plans slowly fell aside when Philip Silva, a 34-year-old shift supervisor with the corporate, was relocated in September 2015 to Famouri’s retailer, the lawsuit says.

In line with the swimsuit, Silva had been moved from Lululemon’s El Segundo retailer to its Santa Monica location after workers complained about his sexually inappropriate conduct. Famouri’s direct supervisor knew “Silva was being transferred as a result of he had been sexually inappropriate with a number of feminine workers on the El Segundo retailer,” the grievance says. Lululemon denied to BuzzFeed Information that its Santa Monica retailer administration crew was conscious of earlier misconduct at the moment.

Silva pressured Famouri into spending time alone collectively — requests that she felt compelled to adjust to as a result of he was her superior. He instructed her particulars about his intercourse life, together with a current intercourse get together he’d attended, and aggressively pursued her, pressuring her to work out with him at his residence, the place he as soon as massaged her legs and kissed her. Over textual content, he rejected Famouri’s excuses for not figuring out with or seeing him once more, together with her having strep throat. However due to his place, she didn’t report the advances.

On April 22, 2016, Famouri determined to inform Silva in particular person over a sushi dinner that she was not fascinated about a relationship with him. In line with the swimsuit, Silva then known as her “fats and instructed her to not eat, known as her silly and instructed her she would by no means discover a summer time internship.”

When she dropped him off at residence, Silva apologized, begging her to return inside his residence. She didn’t need to go inside, however felt obligated as he was her supervisor, in line with the swimsuit.

As quickly as they went inside the home, Silva started to kiss her neck and “really feel her up,” in line with the lawsuit. Famouri instructed Silva to cease and tried to wriggle away, however he pinned her to his mattress and started undressing himself. He pulled off Famouri’s shirt and Lululemon yoga pants as she yelled, “No, I don’t need to have intercourse with you!”

“This isn’t intercourse,” Silva allegedly stated. “That is simply the tip.”

Then as he raped her, he stated, “Now that is intercourse.”


Getty Pictures/Stuart C. Wilson

Famouri, in shock, didn’t instantly report the assault to police or speak about it with buddies or her boyfriend on the time. However after a while, she confided in a coworker who instructed her to inform her direct supervisor. When Famouri known as her supervisor to report the assault, the supervisor allegedly began crying and stated, “That is the decision I wanted to listen to.”

Her supervisor had obtained experiences that Silva had been sexually inappropriate with different employees, however she didn’t consider the occasions rose to the extent of requiring any motion, in line with the lawsuit.

“Effectively earlier than Famouri was assaulted,” numerous managers had “obtained complaints and/or witnessed Silva partaking in sexually inappropriate conduct along with his feminine subordinates,” the swimsuit says. “These incidents had been considered and/or reported to Lululemon administration although no disciplinary motion was ever taken.”

Lululemon instructed BuzzFeed Information that it pursued an investigation in line with its personal firm procedures, though Famouri requested the corporate to not provoke an inside investigation till police contacted Silva. It was solely throughout the investigation that the corporate turned conscious of extra experiences of misconduct associated to Silva, it added. The corporate stated it was by no means contacted by police and isn’t conscious of any felony expenses which will have been filed. Famouri’s grievance says she filed a report with the Hermosa Seaside Police Division.

Two days after talking along with her supervisor, Famouri acquired a name from a Lululemon human assets consultant who “admitted to being unprepared to deal with Famouri’s declare,” the swimsuit claims. As a substitute of investigating the assault, she inspired Famouri to resign. Famouri requested the corporate pursue an investigation, and requested for a go away of absence. However the human assets consultant stated Famouri’s solely choice was to resign and be eligible to be rehired sooner or later, even providing a “transition package deal” for a number of months’ value of wage if she stop.

The corporate denies any declare that Famouri was harassed into resigning. It additionally claims the data within the lawsuit is inconsistent with findings of the investigation, however wouldn’t present additional particulars to BuzzFeed Information.

“It’s so upsetting that that is how they had been treating one thing as extreme as assault,” Famouri instructed BuzzFeed Information. “It was upsetting, disheartening.”


Getty Pictures/Tim P. Whitby

Famouri instructed BuzzFeed Information that at Lululemon, it was frequent for workers to hook up with one another, no matter their work positions.

Retailer employees usually made lewd feedback, which had been met with a mild scolding or no response in any respect. For instance, Famouri remembers a second when she bent over to return a bit of merchandise right into a bin and a coworker made a joke that this might be “the closest he would ever get to Famouri’s ass,” in line with the lawsuit. (A feminine assistant supervisor overhead and stated, “You’re so gross” with out disciplining the worker, the grievance says.) After one other shift, the identical coworker instructed Famouri he solely appreciated “women with a fats pussy,” in line with the lawsuit. A key chief standing subsequent to her on the time by no means disciplined the coworker.

Famouri instructed BuzzFeed Information that workers “took sexual harassment coaching as a joke and the coaching was virtually nonexistent.” All employees had been required to observe a video on office sexual harassment, which gave the instance of a employee slapping one other particular person on the butt as harassment, in line with the lawsuit. However as a substitute of taking the lesson to coronary heart, workers jokingly slapped one another on the butt for weeks as a sport.

“When these issues come up, they don’t know what to do and somewhat than tackle them, they fake they don’t exist,” Adam Zaffos, an legal professional with Fernald Regulation Group, which is representing Famouri towards Lululemon and Silva, instructed BuzzFeed Information. “On this case with Silva they only pushed him off to a different retailer. By doing so, they left in place a state of affairs ripe for a serial harasser to proceed to make use of the shop as his looking floor and that’s not the way it must be.”

Silva now works at an Equinox gymnasium, Equinox’s human assets division confirmed with BuzzFeed Information.

By the lawsuit, Famouri is demanding the corporate set up higher sexual harassment coaching, undertake a zero-tolerance coverage towards sexual harassment, implement a no-fraternizing rule, create a approach to report sexual harassment complaints, and set up a system that will not enable folks like Silva to bounce from retailer to retailer.

“My predominant objective was to carry change,” Famouri stated. “All of it goes again to my true north star in all this — ensuring this doesn’t occur once more.”

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