Perry Ellis International, the fashion label named after its gay founder, is being sued over claims that the company’s president demanded that there are “no blacks in my ads” or “anyone who looked too gay”.
The company, which also owns the labels Original Penguin, Ping and Nike Swim, is being sued over an alleged racist and homophobic policy instilled by its president and chief operating officer, Oscar Feldenkreis.
Feldenkreis, who is due to replace his father George Feldenkreis as Perry Ellis’s chief executive early next year, is also accused of telling the plaintiff that he could avoid jury service by “telling them you hate niggers and fags”.
Perry Ellis said it “categorically denies” all the allegations.
The lawsuit, filed in a New York court on Wednesday, is brought on behalf of Joseph Cook, the president of Original Penguin’s wholesale division. Cook, who is gay, claims that he has been “forced to endure highly offensive homophobic, racial and ethnic slurs” from Feldenkreis.