Popular clothing giant Uniqlo is facing claims of bullying and discrimination by a former HR manager, who says she was passed over for promotions due to her “caucasian heritage”.
A statement of claim filed with the Federal Court in Melbourne states that Melanie Bell believes she was “discriminated against because of her caucasian heritage and she was denied career advancement opportunities because of her gender”.
“The respondent failed to promote the applicant and other non-Asian and female senior managers in the business while promoting other senior managers who were ex-pats and/or male and/or of Asian descent.”
Now, Bell is suing the fashion giant for at least $1 million in lost wages and damages, News Corp reports.
The documents lodged by her lawyers, McDonald Murholme, allege that Bell was bullied at least four times and that another finance executive was given an $8,000 pay rise because of his Asian background.
According to the documents, Bell was recognised as a “global talent” and had a good performance history.
But according to the claim, she was denied a promotion due to a “negative attitude” in March and April 2017 – the same period as her mother’s death.
She also claims that in another performance evaluation she was denied a promotion until the HR software she had rolled out had been in place for up to 12 months, and was instead given a pay rise of $3,000.
The claim said that another employee of an “Asian background”, finance manager Cessna Avianto, was given a top performance score and a promotion for configuring the “SAP” finance system so it would be ready for implementation.
“The applicant believes Mr Avianto’s promotion in February 2018 and his salary increase was an example of the discriminatory behaviour typical at the respondent,” according to the statement of claim.
Uniqlo said the other applicant’s promotion was due to their “far superior” performance.
Bell claimed she was denied opportunities to create international connections and move towards a leadership role, despite these being the criteria upon which her requests for promotion were denied.
Uniqlo denies most allegations, and says Bell was assisted in her attempts to build global relationships at Uniqlo.
“We can confirm that Uniqlo’s former payroll and information systems manager Melanie Bell left the company on March 26, 2018. Ms Bell resigned from her position. Whilst Uniqlo respects Ms Bell’s right to pursue claims through the legal system, the company denies the allegations made by her,” a spokeswoman told The Australian.
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