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Prada fires “ugly” employee, now suing her for $780k

In a nasty battle between Prada and a former employee, the subjectivity and relevance of beauty in retail is brought to the forefront.





Prada fired employees for being old, fat, and ugly

Prada, a luxury retailer, was sued in 2010 by ex-employee Rina Bovrisse for discrimination and wrongful termination. During her time with Prada, Bovrisse sent a report to upper management after being told by the HR department, “You need to change your hairstyle. You need to lose weight. The CEO is ashamed of your ugliness and will not introduce you to any visitors from Milan.”

Not long after, Prada Japan’s CEO demoted or transferred 15 women who were deemed to be “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or did not have the Prada look.”

Court rules in favor of Prada

In October 2012, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Prada. Prada is now countersuing Bovrisse, a single mother, for allegedly damaging the brand’s reputation and looks to collect $780,000.

The situation has captured national attention and Bovrisse has gone to the United Nations to help her file a new lawsuit in the U.S., where discrimination laws are stricter. The U.S. has numerous federal anti-discrimination laws, including prohibition against discrimination for race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.

Sympathizer launches a new petition

A sympathizer to Bovrisse’ situation started a petition last October to force the retailer to drop its countersuit. To date the petition has over 192,000 signatures as of May 2013 and continues to garner support on a worldwide stage.

Bovrisse stated the reason for her continued efforts against the international retailer is “I really wanted to fight for female rights here, especially in the fashion industry,” she says. “Prada is not doing the right thing. They’re making profits from women; meanwhile all these women working for Prada are suffering.”

Fighting for womens’ rights

Japan became a state party of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1980. The convention’s primary purpose is “equality of rights for women.” This is backed by the International Bill of Human Rights which “strengthens and extends this emphasis on human rights of women.”

What are your thoughts regarding Prada’s stance about women? Is it acceptable for a luxury brand to discriminate against its employees? Does Prada have a responsibility to be an example of beauty as part of its brand? Or is beauty truly only in the eye of the beholder?

Below: image of Rena Bovrisse.
rena bovrisse

Charity Kountz is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction author as well as a Realtor and certified Paralegal. Her writing has been featured in Coldwell Banker, iPhone Life, Strategy magazine, Duck Soup magazine, and more.

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  1. Richard De Vita

    May 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    This is sad in this day and age. I am not a big PC guy, but I think this is despicable on the part of Prada. Would they fire a man for being bald, fat, or ugly, I doubt it.

    • JonaD

      July 2, 2013 at 1:38 am

      Of course they would, this has nothing to do with their gender, it has to do with ‘beauty’, and more succinctly Madame Prada’s VISION of beauty, the same concept of beauty this woman was willing to ride the curtails of when she had a job with her company. OH!! Back then, she was happy to work for a totally elitist brand that those 192,000 women couldn’t even afford!! Oh yea, she’d go to work bragging and dissing and making other women feel jealous for… she was a part of a beauty brand that ignored! and avoided! those 192,000 of her ‘socialist sisters and their sycophantic males, you know… like YOU Richard. SO she was thrilled!! to have Prada’s sense of beauty, make HER special! But now, that she is gone… “BOOOO HOOO! Prada Bad, Prada Evil!!” hehe Losers!

      • Charity Kountz

        July 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        Jona, your comments have gone into a “troll-ish” territory and do not help your “argument” at all. You are stating opinion as fact when you really have no idea who this woman is. How do you know she “bragged and dissed” other women? Were you physically there? You’re stereotyping this individual who you most likely have never met let alone know personally. What’s more, even if she were doing that, is it not just as possible that she would have learned from the behavior, realized her mistake and tried to correct it? Is it not acceptable to allow for someone to change their mind and attempt to correct the behavior? What kind of message are we sending to our children with this kind of action? As a result, this woman has been punished severely (and publicly) for doing the right thing, for going “against the collective” if you will. That, in my opinion, is wrong.

  2. JoeLoomer

    May 16, 2013 at 7:59 am

    “Not long after, Prada Japan’s CEO demoted or transferred 15 women who were deemed to be “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or did not have the Prada look.”…

    Since this is presented as fact, versus allegations, in your post, I’ll assume all litigation records to date support that as the reason the CEO fired them (and verifies the content of the letter sent about Ms. Bovrisse), and furthermore, screw Prada!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Lani Rosales

      May 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Court records reflect it as an occurrence both sides agreed took place.

    • JonaD

      July 2, 2013 at 1:43 am

      SO what you are really saying is… is screw the law, screw the efforts of litigation, screw reality… anarchy uber alas, long live the bloody flame of socialism!

      A NAVY socialist… oh great!

      • Charity Kountz

        July 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm

        This comment is inappropriate in the extreme and is flaming our visitors. If you cannot contain yourself appropriately, please find somewhere else to place your comments.

        • JonaD

          July 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

          Ok, I removed the NAVY reference.

          • Charity Kountz

            July 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

            I suppose that helps… somewhat. 🙂

  3. Charity Kountz

    May 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I know I will definitely not be one to purchase any Prada products ever. Hopefully others will make a similar decision. I know I will be telling anyone I know who has Prada about the situation. Thanks for commenting @JoeLoomer:disqus @facebook-100003025860922:disqus and @twitter-12423822:disqus, my wonderful Editor-in-Chief!

    • Cynthia Avishegnath

      June 23, 2013 at 1:17 am

      I can’t afford to make that decision, simply because I can’t decide not to buy things that I cannot afford to buy.

      • JonaD

        July 2, 2013 at 1:40 am

        I will look forward to the day that I can buy one Prada item, just to hang it on a wall, as ART!, and thus nullify both of your socialist efforts to decry personal choice and freewill!

        This woman is not OWED! anything… Prada does not HAVE TO employ her… you feminists are too much!

        • Charity Kountz

          July 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

          Jona, I did not write this article from a feminist viewpoint at all. It’s actually about equality and fair treatment for all. If this were done to a man, I would say the exact same thing about that situation. No one deserves to be hired, fired or discriminated against based on looks. Have we learned nothing from the Civil War? Is our country doomed to repeat history through this kind of bigotry and prejudice, and especially for something so trivial as fashion?

          Socialism is defined per Merriam-Webster dictionary, as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods”. There’s absolutely nothing socialistic in the comments or the article to begin with. People really should do more to study socialism before they start labeling behaviors that way because as you’ve phrased it does not apply in the slightest. However, all forms of government have their methods which work so this is not a criticism against or endorsement for that form of government.

          In addition, it is hardly socialist to want equal and fair treatment for others regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality or any other discrimination. Discrimination, in all its forms, is wrong. That’s the principle our country was founded on over 200 years ago and it applies as much today as it did then. It’s ironic further that I’m posting this on the U.S.’ Independence Day holiday. This article shows us all that our country, our society and even the world still has significant work to do on this issue. On this wonderful day of celebration of our freedoms, I will leave you with these thoughts from the constitution, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

          Thank you for sharing your viewpoint and I’m glad to see the article struck such a passionate chord in you, even if we disagree.


          Charity Kountz

          • JonaD

            July 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm

            I was not speaking of a governmental connection, why are you making it seem as if I am? That’s pretty subtle manipulation of my statements, obviously designed to lead a viewer into false beliefs. I was speaking about the collective, so why don’t you consider the collective notion of a class of people who are bound together loosely based on a perceived similarity of economic impact issues?

            Yes, I believe people should be discriminated by their looks. Prada has the right to hire and fire whom she wishes, with only governmental restrictions inhibiting that. This woman’s case was tried in Tokyo, where obviously looks are not a factor, she is now petitioning the U.N. to create a basis for suing Prada in the U.S. where she hope ‘socialist’ sympathies, by a collective of similarly emotionally validated and skewed losers, will bolster her claim, or rather YOUR claim, that looks SHOULD NOT play a part in employment, even though they do.

            So as per your desires, people will no longer consider it essential to dress either professionally, or attractively? I mean who defines professionally or attractively… oh yes, evil employers making unreasonable demands based on looks! Right? So yes, let’s extend this issue you have with looks… what does it matter if the person we speak to who represents the company they work for has rotted teeth, or extreme non-communicable diseases causing their skin to scale or rot as you converse… ignore that! Do the right thing! Right? Because after all, what does appearances have to do with business, or economics, or sales, or anything at all? Right?

            Well then, so what does the bottom line, people’s sensitivities, marketability, social inhibitions, taboos and fears have to do with anything? Right? So forget about whether customers have a problem because they ALL SHOULD JUST GET A LIFE! Right? And if business suffers, well… TOO BAD! Because people are owed a job and defending that abstract uber utopian perspective is worth any losses which may result? Right? So you would choose for the potential demise of a business, so that certain individuals who cause it damage by their appearances, can have a permanent position and gain economic compensation, because of?? ahhh… oh yes, because of the Civil War, because once… blacks were slaves and have continued to be discriminated against because of their LOOKS? Right?

            Well I have news for you, society will not either shield their eyes or change their minds based on your utopian decree, people will continue to shop at stores where representatives present themselves as looking attractive to whatever feeble notions of fashion and acceptability they wish to respect. So if an employer wishes to protect the jobs of the majority, they are expected to shape their employed force in the direction that their customers demand them to, aren’t they? Well, aren’t they? Or do you really really think Prada should abandon the implicit Prada brand justifications for visual appeal that has made her a billionaire, and provided jobs and welfare for thousands, who depend on her sense of aesthetics to lead the company into further profits in their and its future?

            I posit that customer demands will continue to press Prada into fulfilling her reputation, and employee demands will continue to fill her integrity with the obligation, to fire people who do not meet the criteria she has historically set forth as essential to all their well beings. So your desire to Egalitarianize a successful business and strap it down to YOUR particular notion of, the lowest common denominator effort to shape and control their collective human behavior… is a FAIL. So deal with that? Yes, you should, I think, but then I can’t control your behavior like you’d like to control everyone, including mine… right?

          • Charity Kountz

            July 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

            Once again, you’re taking this discussion to an extreme. I was using many of these points as comparisons. I am not manipulating your points, and was only defining socialism. And while I am talking about Prada’s Tokyo division, and Prada is based out of Italy, the company also operates in a global marketplace, which the U.N. has an impact and responsibility for.

            In addition, I’ve addressed the issue of fashion discrimination previously, with regards to Abercrombie. A brand can be selective without being elitist or discriminatory. As with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach something. The wrong way is to belittle and ostracize people instead of simply politely declining them as unsuitable.

            Yes, have standards, but do so in a way that is transparent, uniform, and fair. If these individuals weren’t worthy of Prada’s brand, why were they hired in the first place? It’s unfair to set an unreasonable expectation on something so subjective as beauty. I by no means expect Prada to abandon its marketing or approach any more than I would of Mercedes, Ferrari, Porsche, Neil Lane or countless other businesses who responsibly present their luxury high-quality products to consumers.

            I don’t believe anything in the article or my comments is Utopian at all. The world is a flawed place thanks to humans and their foibles. But we can rise above and be better, if we choose to be. And it takes the sharing of ideas, and open discussion to bring about change or insight on issues such as this one.

            Additionally, there’s only so much a short article like this one can address in 300 – 500 words. Diving into the subject in more detail might shed additional light on the subject’s many complex factors but sadly there wasn’t enough space to do so.

            I have no desire to control anyone, I am simply sharing my perspective in the comments and reporting on the topic in the article. It seems to me that you’re trying to cause an inflamed argument for the sake of it and I am too experienced with internet etiquette to rise to the bait.

            Try to consider, for a bit, some of my points outside of your own narrow viewpoint and you might learn something new. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m not saying I’m right, I’m saying there’s another way that might be better for all – Prada and the worldwide community it serves. I certainly don’t expect to change your mind and you obviously don’t agree or like my comments so I won’t respond any further. Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts on the article and my responses. I enjoy a lively debate.

          • JonaD

            July 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

            The group that hired and fired her is in Tokyo, so local labor laws apply.

            So… to you, being ‘fair’ is mostly about ‘how it appears’? I say, “at least Prada was honest!”, I don’t know how many times people have been fired or laid off with NO clue, as the employer is afraid to give one, or doesn’t want to appear one way or another, or simply has no concern with giving a reason… but Prada, oh man… she’s out front and fully disclosing, no matter what it might mean to someone else, she hangs it out there and goes for it!, I admire that, in fact from my personal experiences I say, “I admire that in a woman!”

            People, and in this case a mix between a person and a company, takes risks… they hire someone based on criteria that is important to them, and if at some point a person fails to meet that criteria, they are fired or laid off. That happens everywhere, except perhaps in some specifically affiliated jobs, where someone may simply get moved somewhere else, or some other alternative plan of action.

            Life isn’t about being transparent, uniform or fair… life is about confronting, fighting and winning… or not. This is an absolute until modified by a formal agreement. Law as such then, is a formal agreement, it doesn’t matter what some personal issues are, if the law says one thing, that’s the way it is. If the law suggests some ‘hypothetical standard’ is negotiable, then that’s the way it is, unless there is a default to some ‘standard’. I suggest that people who are especially sensitive to ‘humans and their foibles’, should negotiate an employment agreement which proclaims particular modes, via clauses, guidelines, etc., such as the circumstances and ramifications of separation… I always do. This woman obviously did not.

            ‘Utopian’ is a framework, it’s an abstract. I don’t think it’s valid to simply say, “It’s unfair to set an unreasonable expectation on something so subjective as beauty.”, without even suggesting what you believe a minimum expectation of beauty is, …so seeing that trend in your prose, I proclaimed that you have in your mind, some ‘utopian’ notion you live your life to, but let’s face it… that’s purely subjective and cannot be mandated en total on others, or can it? I figure local labor laws are the place where the majority suggests the framework, and my argument goes with THAT ‘subjective’.

            Yeah, short articles. It’s really short on You Tube! hehe I have no idea how people can be satisfied on Twitter?!?

            Now… don’t start calling me a troll, that will defeat your entire premise of integrity via a stable utopian pacifistic vision? ; )

            I am saying the law is right, so until people change THAT, you and I are only dancing around it.

          • YouOldFool

            July 11, 2013 at 1:35 am

            JonaD has a copy of every book Ayn Rand wrote. The pages are all stuck together.

          • JonaD

            July 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm

            Only Atlas Shrugged, but then I’ve read over 2000 books so she is but one author amongst many. I have however watched a couple of her filmed interviews, and read a number of her columns and articles… she was a brilliant articulate woman with many valid notions.

    • jeff

      October 29, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Prada doesn’t want *you* in the store

    • Ruby

      August 18, 2015 at 2:49 am

      Just because these women were fired at a few different prada stores doesn’t give you the right to say these things about the whole company. When they get fired Its because Of the Person who fired them not about the whole company. I strongly disagree With Jonad and Charity Kountz.

    • RogerF

      August 31, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Do you know if there was a resolution to this or is it still in the courts?

  4. AnneRoberts_MesrianiLaw

    June 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I heard there was an ongoing petition asking Prada to drop the lawsuit against the unfortunate fired employee who lost her discrimination lawsuit. In fact, recent news reports had it that the petition has already earned 60,000 signatures.

    • JonaD

      July 2, 2013 at 1:47 am

      I agree that the suit is a bit harsh, and far more than this woman can pay… but it is Prada’s right, just like it is ANYONE’S right to sue others in court. If Prada shouldn’t do it, then likewise this woman should just moved on to her next job and not ruined her work references or whatever else she now wishes she had.

  5. MurrayPurkins

    June 9, 2013 at 1:39 am

    If the Old, Ugly or Fat are no longer allowed to hold jobs, their choices will be moving in with the Young, Beautiful and Svelte family members…or going on the dole, turning to a life of crime, or dropping dead. Sign the petition or have an Ugly Relative couch surfing at your house soon.

  6. JonaD

    July 2, 2013 at 1:33 am

    I am so glad Prada kicked this woman to the curb. Employers do not OWE people jobs, what kind of monster old, fat, and ugly POLITIC, those 192,000+ petition signers, and some on this list, have! You are all OWED jobs?? People are now to be FORCED to pay you money?? Individual rights are ONLY for YOU?? Wow. Global Socialism as force fed by Feminism, has twisted your brains, big time. By this woman saying it affects all women, she is merely saying all women are old, fat and ugly… I think Madame Prada… is beautiful! Maybe you women ought to get a clue and follow suit? Workout, workout, workout,… move your butts once in a while!! Quit leeching! Quit suing your employers, quit suing your husbands… get out there and do IT on your own. WHY DOESN’T THIS WOMAN start a competing handbag brand called, “Old, Fat, and Ugly” and make a billion dollars?? I WOULD!! What a LOSER!

    • Cynthia Avishegnath

      July 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      You are an angry person. Very angry.

      • JonaD

        July 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm

        I’m a rational person, very rational …and you hate that in a man.

        • Cynthia Avishegnath

          July 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm

          A drunk in stupor never/rarely admits he’/she’s drunk. An angry person is normally the consequence of his perception that no one significant in his/her life sees his/her “rational logic”. And that cooks up a lot of frustration.

          • JonaD

            July 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm

            I have no idea why you hate rational people, I suppose you’ve had bad experiences where you felt marginalized and thus inferior to those who more rationally approach life than you do. The projection on me of your frustration is inappropriate and you should refrain from it.

            The woman described by the article is not entitled to a job, Prada does not have to pay her. The reason is immaterial, or the court would have found for her. The fact that YOU and others see this as unfair are your own ‘personal’ opinions, but they are NOT the legal position, and the legal position is damn good enough for me. I’m sorry if this burns you up, so much so in fact, that you are apparently ‘compelled’ to troll me, but the basis of your ‘virtual violence’ towards me, in support of that woman’s totally out of control hysterics and theatrics, is not rational. Prada was well within her rights. So that woman and YOU, ought to take it like a man, and grow a pair… and quit moaning and groaning already! *sheesh*

          • Cynthia Avishegnath

            July 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

            Will there be a jury trial? Obviously, if the trial goes to a jury … Prada would have reason to be afraid.

          • JonaD

            July 3, 2013 at 7:54 am

            My understanding is that she sued in Tokyo District Court. I don’t know their rules, but in our District Courts, many municipalities have a number of reliefs available. However, her next move seems to imply… there is none.

            She is now petitioning the U.N. to have her case heard in the U.S. To me, this is a bizarre turn of events and makes no legal sense at all. It may be a ploy to try and shock Prada into releasing her from the potential liability of the counter suit, I haven’t a clue, but it is bizarre and I easily predict the change in venue will not occur. So, a jury trial? I seriously doubt it.

  7. LynnM

    July 5, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Tell her to F Off and get another job. She couldn’t do anything in Japan so she brought her suit to the USA

  8. Miranda Seymour

    July 7, 2013 at 1:08 am

    The photo of Rina Bovrisse shows her as beautiful! WTF is wrong with Prada?? They hired her in the first place! Firing her because they consider looking ‘ugly’ is discrimination, plain and simple. Shame on the Japanese courts. Thank god I don’t support any high end fashion designers. Boycott!

  9. dmn88me

    July 11, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Judging from the appearance of the author of this drivel it leaves little to the imagination as to why she chose to champion the cause of the ugly, fat and disheveled.

  10. YouOldFool

    July 11, 2013 at 1:32 am

    I think Prada’s policies are fine, as long as they are consistent and refuse to sell their products to those who are “Old, fat or ugly.” How would it look if those wonderful products were seen on the non-beautiful–by Prada’s own standards?

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