A former Lululemon employee, who accused her supervisor of raping her in 2016, has filed suit against the activewear retailer, claiming that the company created “the perfect environment for a sexual predator.” The news comes less than a month after Massage Envy therapists were accused of more than 180 sexual assaults—and Yoga Girl author and blogger Rachel Brathen came forward with her own wellness-world-set #metoo experiences and urged others to share their stories.
The complaint details Shayla Famouri’s experiences as a part-time worker at the company from 2014 to 2016, which she describes as a normalized culture of sexual harassment at the Santa Monica, CA, store. It further states that the company was aware of bad behavior by Famouri’s alleged assailant, Philip Silva, before the rape took place. A Lululemon spokesperson denied prior knowledge of any complaints against Silva, CNBC reports.
Buzzfeed reports, however, that Silva was moved to the store where Famouri worked in September 2015 after employees at his previous location complained about his inappropriate behavior—alleging that Lululemon was both aware and playing along. “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,” the suit claims.
“[Lululemon] knew about this guy. They should have done something about it, and they didn’t.” —Adam Zaffos, Famouri’s lawyer
When Famouri reported her assault to the company, according to the suit, she was pressured by to resign and take a payout. Instead, she stopped reporting to work.
In response to the lawsuit, Lululemon issued the following prepared statement through a spokesperson: “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.”
Famouri’s suit seeks $3 million in damages from Lululemon, based on claims of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Adam Zaffos, Famouri’s lawyer, said his client hopes to prevent what happened to her from happening to other employees. “[Lululemon] knew about this guy,” Zaffos said. “They should have done something about it, and they didn’t.”
Through its spokesperson, Lululemon stated that “harassment and discrimination have no place in our community,” and said that it is “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.”
What do the allegations against Lululemon mean for women and wellness? Well+Good co-founder Melisse Gelula discusses the #metoo wave in wellness with professor Well+Good contributor Natalia Petrzela here:
We are live! Lululemon is being sued for “enabling a culture of sexual harassment.” Well+Good co-founder Melisse Gelula is discussing the case w/contributor and professor Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, PhD Join us to talk #metoo + #wellness industry.
Posted by Well+Good on Friday, December 22, 2017