Ian Jack Miller was in-house counsel for Zara

Ian Jack Miller was in-house counsel for Zara

Inditex-owned fashion chain Zara USA is facing a US$40m lawsuit over the alleged discrimination and subsequent firing of its in-house counsel.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ian Jack Miller by Sanford Heisler Kimpel, and claims the counsel was discriminated against and fired because is was found to be "Jewish, American, and gay".

The case seeks damages for "creating a hostile work environment, pay discrimination, and unlawful and retaliatory termination" based on Miller's nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.

According to the complaint, Zara's US chief executive is one of a number of individuals named as being primary responsible for the harassment of Miller. He has been accused of "denigrating" the Jewish landlords and Jewish real estate developers Zara works with, repeatedly referring to them behind their back as "los judios", or "the Jews".

The lawsuit also alleges top executives harassed Miller by emailing graphic pornography, talking about penis size, bragging about sexual exploits with female subordinates, and discussing visiting prostitutes during work trips. It also describes how Zara's top executives regularly exchanged racist emails, including emails portraying Michelle Obama serving fried chicken and emails depicting Barack Obama in a Ku Klux Klan hood, with a Confederate flag, on a Cream of Wheat box, on an Aunt Jemima box, and shining shoes.

"Mr Miller was not a member of Zara's favoured demographic," said David Sanford, lead counsel for Miller. "Because of his outsider status, we allege Zara overlooked Mr Miller's stellar performance, marginalised his role in the company, and gave him lower raises than employees who fit the company's preferred profile. The campaign of discrimination culminated with Zara's discriminatory and retaliatory firing of Mr Miller."

He was allegedly fired without being offered a severance or a transitional period to find other employment or to negotiate the terms of his future with the company.