Published: February 25, 2020

The New York City Commission on Human Rights inked a settlement with Prada that will have the company investing significant human capital and resources in programs directed at diversity and inclusion. Is this settlement, which addresses the impact of racially tone-deaf expression, just the beginning of a new trend?

Over a year after Prada marketed its “Pradamalia” campaign—featuring a figurine of a monkey that resembled blackface—the company entered into an agreement obligating it to take key measures to combat racism within not only its ranks but also the wider community.  Check out the New York Times article for more details about the complaint and read the settlement.

The settlement promotes the expectation that diversity and inclusion officers will not be figureheads within an organization, but play an integral role in administering key policies and facilitating communication amongst all facets of the business, including human resources, product design, marketing, and public relations. It also highlights the parallels that may be drawn between corporate expression and corporate culture and should put employers on notice that regulatory agencies—and the plaintiffs’ bar—will continue to scrutinize the link between the two. 

The Commission lauds this settlement as the first time principles of restorative justice—which seek reconciliation over punishment—have been applied in a civil matter to redress a harm against the public at large.  Employers should expect that this will not be the last time the Commission or other agencies will use restorative justice principles to improve workplace culture both on company premises and off.

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