Image: Company founder Lorna Jane Clarkson (via Instagram)
The Lorna Jane philosophy revolves around empowerment and nourishment but one former employee claims it’s a vastly different story behind the scenes.
The popular activewear label is being sued by Amy Robinson, who alleges she was bullied by her superiors while managing the Brisbane Airport DFO outlet in 2012. The 39-year-old mother, who wears a size 14, says her colleagues repeatedly harassed her about her weight.
“A senior staff member would constantly suggest I skip lunch, or make offhand comments about my lifestyle choices,” she tells The Courier-Mail.
Some of her colleagues regularly skipped lunch and subsisted on coffee, and Robinson claims they would encourage others to do the same.
“We were meant to be nourishing our bodies but we were never allowed to do that… I don’t think there were many girls who were over a size 10 and they were all young and attractive,” Robinson says, adding that she was quizzed about her health and fitness regimen during her interview and induction process.
Robinson is now demanding more than $500,000 from Lorna Jane, claiming her six months with the company left her depressed, destroyed her confidence and also left her with injuries from carrying heavy stock.
Her lawyer tells The Courier-Mail that although Robinson tried to resolve the issue at the time, the label’s management didn’t do anything to stop the bullying, and even covered it up. (Post continues after gallery.)
However, a Lorna Jane spokesperson has denied these claims, and says they’re now considering defamatory action against Robinson.
Lorna Jane is one of the most popular clothing labels in the country, if not the most — in 2014, they became the first Australian retailer to reach one million followers on Instagram. The company has more than 155 stores worldwide, and has won a number of fitness industry awards.
Yet over the past couple of months, the label has been making headlines for less positive reasons.
In July, a job listing for a 'Receptionist/Fit Model' drew widespread criticism across social media, with many accusing the company of sizeism and discrimination.
However, a Lorna Jane spokesperson clarified the role in a Facebook post, explaining the successful candidate would split their time across reception duties and helping the label's designers ensure size consistency in their garments.
“As you can imagine, we have a great variety of styles and fabrics and it is imperative that we keep our sizing as consistent as possible. Having a fit model allows us to do so,” the company wrote on Facebook.
Have you ever been bullied at work? Did your management do anything about it?