Fashion designer Philipp Plein accused of firing employee for being gay and HIV-positive

Nick Duffy
·2-min read

Fashion designer Philipp Plein is facing a lawsuit for alleged discrimination against a gay man with HIV.

Amro Alsoleibi, former regional manager across Philipp Plein’s stores in New York City, filed a lawsuit against the German luxury fashion designer and his US-based operation, alleging he was fired “as a direct result of his sexual orientation and HIV-positive status”.

The suit alleges that the designer repeatedly made homophobic comments towards him and other gay employees – before ultimately terminating his employment after learning he is HIV-positive.

Alsoleibi spent more than a decade working across luxury brands before joining the company, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Plein “was not aware of the fact that plaintiff was gay, or of his HIV-positive status” when he joined the company, the complaint reads.

It continues: “Very early in Mr Alsoleibi’s employment, Plein started to be transparent with his distaste for gay men, saying, ‘I hate to work with gays.'”

Alsoleibi alleges that the designer persistently made homophobic comments, describing things he disliked as “too gay” and directing stores: “Don’t hire gays.”

Fashion designer Philipp Plein is facing a lawsuit for alleged discrimination
The employee alleges that Philipp Plein made anti-gay comments towards him (Getty/David M Benett)

Phillip Plein said brand should be ‘100 per cent heterosexual’.

The former manager says the alleged behaviour was a “pattern and practice, across the entire company”, claiming Plein expressed a wish for it to be “100 per cent heterosexual.”

The plaintiff said: “[Plein] frequently affirmed and fostered the macho and toxic masculinity image of his business.

“He was very clear that this preference was not just for business branding, but also that all managers and employees must fit a certain stereotype in order to work for him.”

Alsoleibi’s health insurance was also abruptly cancelled in 2019, forcing him to out himself as HIV-positive. Although his coverage was reinstated, he says the brand soon began to strip him of duties based on “assumptions of his health”.

The ex-employee says that when he challenged Philipp Plein over his conduct, he received a warning letter over his performance that he claims was later used as a pretext to fire him.

Alsoleibi is seeking seeking damages and back pay over his sacking, which he says was due to his sexuality, HIV status, and “in retaliation for his multiple complaints about defendants’ unlawful employment policies.”

Philipp Plein is yet to comment on the lawsuit.