Gucci treated top saleswoman who sold $50M of gear like a SLAVE, mocked her age and bullied her until she wasted away to skin and bones with her hair falling out, bombshell lawsuit claims

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • Tracy Cohen worked as a client advisor-sales associate for Gucci’s Chicago store on Michigan Avenue for eighteen years. In October, she was terminated
  • In January, she filed a lawsuit against the Italian luxury fashion house for mental health and age discrimination 
  • She is accusing the fashion house for emotional distress, hours working off the clock, and unpaid commissions

Gucci treated a top saleswoman who sold $50 million of designer goods like a slave, mocked her age and bullied her until she wasted away to skin and bones with her hair falling out, a lawsuit claims. 

Tracy Cohen worked as a client advisor-sales associate for Gucci’s Chicago store on Michigan Avenue for eighteen years. She sold more than $50 million of goods – including $5 million in 2021 alone. But in October 2023, she was terminated without severance.

Cohen, 58, claims she was discriminated against because of her age and that bosses preferred under-40s. She also claims she was targeted because of her gender and disability – anxiety and depression. 

She was told she was ‘crazy’ and ‘old’ for complaining that she was being worked 24/7, it is alleged.

Cohen says she was deprived of thousands in commission to punish her for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint and the Illinois human rights department.

In the complaint, Cohen claimed the top boss of Gucci ignored her pleas. When she went to her manager and human resources, hoping she would finally get help, she was told she was suspended and ‘under investigation.’

The lawsuit against Kering, Gucci, Gucci, Gucci America, Inc. and Gucci North American Holdings was filed on January 22, 2024 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. 

Tracy Cohen worked as a client advisor-sales associate for Gucci’s Chicago store (pictured) on Michigan Avenue for eighteen years

President and CEO of Gucci Marco Bizzarri (pictured) wearing Gucci left the brand in November 2023 after disagreeing with management about Gucci¿s direction, as per The New  York Times

President and CEO of Gucci Marco Bizzarri (pictured) wearing Gucci left the brand in November 2023 after disagreeing with management about Gucci’s direction, as per The New  York Times

Models strut down the catwalk at Gucci's RTW 2024 Fashion Show in Milan, Italy in February

Models strut down the catwalk at Gucci’s RTW 2024 Fashion Show in Milan, Italy in February 

The lawsuit alleges that ‘during Ms. Cohen’s employment, rather than decorate her with recognition and give her opportunities to succeed, Gucci instead consumed nearly every second of her life, exploiting her through a modern-day slavery scheme of psychological abuse, manipulation, and discrimination where her employees- Gucci and Kering – destroyed her sense of self and made her live in constant fear of losing her job.’

Cohen was hired by Gucci in 2006. In 2018, she became the number one salesperson in Gucci Chicago, surpassing at least twenty other sales associates. She was responsible for 15 percent of the store’s entire monthly quota.

In 2021 – the year she shifted $5 million of goods – she was given a bonus of just $20,000, it is alleged.  

According to the complaint, Gucci and Kering created an elaborate scheme of trickery to push Cohen to sell more Gucci product, while keeping her afraid of losing her job. 

‘Defendants controlled nearly all aspects of plaintiff life by isolating her from society, demanding that she work off-the-clock while attached to her electronic selling devices, making negative comments about her age and mental health, and giving her a monthly sales quota that was nearly two to three times the quota of her peers,’ according to the suit.

When she was suspended, something that never happened in her 18-year career, and was told she was ‘under investigation.’

The company continued to punish her and told her she could still sell from home, during the 5-day suspension, it is claimed. But bosses forbade her from speaking to any of her co-workers while she was ‘under investigation,’ further isolating her, traumatizing her, and bullying her, the lawsuit alleges

Solange, Salma Hayek, François-Henri Pinault and Hanni at Gucci RTW Fall 2024 as part of Milan Ready to Wear Fashion Week held on February 23, 2024 in Milan, Italy

Solange, Salma Hayek, François-Henri Pinault and Hanni at Gucci RTW Fall 2024 as part of Milan Ready to Wear Fashion Week held on February 23, 2024 in Milan, Italy

Actor Idris Elba, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, and Gucci CEO and President Marco Bizzarri - all dressed in Gucci - are pictured at the 2022 LACMA ART+FILM GALA presented by Gucci at Los Angeles County Museum of Art November 5, 2022

Actor Idris Elba, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, and Gucci CEO and President Marco Bizzarri – all dressed in Gucci – are pictured at the 2022 LACMA ART+FILM GALA presented by Gucci at Los Angeles County Museum of Art November 5, 2022

The suit alleges that coworkers confided in her that they witnessed how defendants were abusing, but never came to her aid. Instead, they watched her physically deteriorate,’ the suit states.

One under-40 male associate told he,’ Why don’t you just quit,’ after watching her manager bully her, as per the suit.

She was also denied an assistant to help her manage her exorbitant workload, as per the complaint. 

‘Plaintiff continued to work under exploitative conditions as her hair fell out, and as she visibly wasted away into skin and bones, suffering from physical manifestation of defendants’ disparate treatment of her,’ according to the complaint. 

While holding the top performer position, she consistently told her superiors that she was suffering from exhaustion, anxiety, and depression, and their conduct was making her disabilities worse.’

When she complanied to both Gucci and Kering she claimed the managers bullied her. When she asked to be transferred to another store, they refused, while transferring, younger, non-disabled, less successful co-workers to other locations.

In September 2022, when she went to then – Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri, who had created a ‘values framework allegedly’ devoted to women’s rights and equality in the workplace, hoping she would have his ear, the suit claimed he ignored.

‘President Bizzarri ignored plaintiff, the female employee who brought nearly $50 million in revenue to Gucci and Kering, over her nearly 18-year career,’ as per the suit.

Cohen claims in the suit she was excluded from prestigious opportunities, and made her feel guilty when she attempted to take time off. One of those instances was when her father was dying, and she needed to care for him, she claimed. 

In March 2022, when she was asked to nominate a cherished clients for Billie Eilish concert tickets, she was told by management that her client pick was too old, according to a letter that was reviewed by DailyMail.com.

‘I believe corporate is looking for Gen Z or Millennial clients – He may be suited for Elton John,’ the letter said, in part.

Billie Eilish is wearing Gucci and pictured speaking onstage at the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci at LACMA on November 2, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

Billie Eilish is wearing Gucci and pictured speaking onstage at the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci at LACMA on November 2, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

Elton John performing during his 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour at the U Arena on June 11, 2022 in Nanterre, France

Elton John performing during his ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour at the U Arena on June 11, 2022 in Nanterre, France 

The suit also details Gucci’s alleged abusive and exploitative labor practice around the globe. Cohen says that Gucci officials maintained sweatshop conditions in China, forced pregnant women to have abortions, and ignored complaints of sexual harassment. 

She further highlighted the luxury goods’ giant’s alleged decision to push new mothers out of their jobs, causing women to suffer from incontinence, calling women ‘crazy,’ and and requiring female models to wear straitjackets on the runway against their will.

Cohen’s lawyer Tamara Holder told DailyMail.com that ‘they fired her because she spoke out.’

‘We are highlighting Tracy’s case but there are other woman coming forward. We are looking forward to an opportunity to expose how these fashion brands treat women in the workplace.

‘Other women have come forward – high performing women – from other locations,’ she added.

Holder said that the first interaction she had with the lawyers was a ‘threat,’ and intends to litigate this in court.

‘The threat was that they were demanding that I remove the trafficking allegations off the lawsuit and they threatened me with sanctions if I didn’t do that.’

Holder said that since the story broke, five additional women from the Seattle, Houston and California area have come forward.

Holder said: ‘All from different Gucci store locations from around the country with nearly identical claims.’  

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