Italian luxury house Dolce and Gabbana has won an employment tribunal, successfully defending a claim by a former employee that argued unfair dismissal and race discrimination.
In March 2020, a suit filed by Ms Atif, a client advisor for the brand’s Harrods concession, stated she had been dismissed without notice for gross misconduct after a disciplinary process. In addition to her aforementioned allegations, Atif criticised the brand’s “unprofessional” structure and claimed it prioritised the Italian workers’ needs over others because of their nationality.
Dolce and Gabbana defended its actions noting that Atif had been abusing its sickness absence policy and highlighted a pattern of sick days that were linked to other absences, such as holiday periods. A disciplinary investigation carried out by the company found Atif has been taking the exact allowance in days of sick pay and had further suggested to colleagues that she was intending to take sick days over the new year period after her leave request was refused.
Atif, who is Algerian and speaks Arabic, reportedly claimed that it was her race that caused the retailer to check her sickness records and pushed the disciplinary investigation against her.
According to a report by Drapers, the tribunal did not accept the allegations, finding that Dolce and Gabbana had reasonable grounds to find Atif guilty of misconduct. It also agreed that the brand’s procedures had been “reasonable”. Furthermore, it rejected the argument that race was the reason for the dismissal, noting there was no evidence suggesting non-Italian workers were treated unfairly.
In conversation with the publication, a partner at law firm Fox Williams, Aron Pope, noted the “unusual” circumstance of the tribunal, stating that well-known brands tend to keep proceedings of such a manner out of the public eye.
He added: “Dolce and Gabbana has helped to demonstrate that, by fighting this claim, it will defend its reputation against unfounded allegations, and it has shown that it does not favour its Italian employees over non-Italian staff – an allegation that many fashion houses face.”