Gay worker settles discrimination suit against fashion stylist
A former employee of a fashion stylist with many celebrity clients has tentatively settled his case against his former boss in which he alleged he was subjected to disparate treatment because he is gay, then forced to resign in 2020 because of intolerable work conditions.
Lawyers for plaintiff Kevin Ericson filed court papers on Aug. 22 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong stating that a “conditional” settlement was reached in Ericson’s complaint against Cristina Ehrlich and her Sherman Oaks business, Little White Dog Inc., and that a request for dismissal would be filed by Oct. 11. No terms were divulged.
Ericson filed suit Feb. 1, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination, failure to prevent harassment and discrimination, constructive discharge and various violations of the state Labor Code. In their court papers, defense attorneys stated that Erhlich “generally” denied the allegations.
According to the suit Ehrlich subjected Ericson to a hostile work environment based on sexual orientation and that her alleged comments were “offensive and/or unwelcome.”
Ehrlich’s celebrity clients include actresses Penelope Cruz, Margot Robbie, Julianna Margulies and Tina Fey, and she was recognized as “Celebrity Stylist of the Year” in 2012, the suit stated. Ericson was hired in 2015 and his duties included receiving and shipping packages from designers for client fittings, coordinating clothes being received and returned for client fittings with designers and showrooms, managing client fittings, coordinating with tailors and clients’ teams and coordinating Ehrlich’s business schedule and travel, the suit stated.
The complaint said Ehrlich called Ericson a gay slur in front of another employee, accused him of using his sexual orientation to form a “gay alliance” against her with another homosexual agent and forced the plaintiff to discipline other male gays in the office for behaving “too gay,” the suit stated.
Ehrlich told Ericson to “tone down the gayness” because it made her uncomfortable, the suit alleged.
The stylist told Ericson and others that he was a “nice, sweet boy” when she hired him, but then became a different personality because of his sexual orientation, the suit stated.
Ehrlich undermined Ericson’s performance in front of such famous clients as Fey, Priyanka Chopra, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, Brie Larson, Alison Brie and Laura Dern, the suit stated.
Some clients told Ericson they agreed he was in an abusive situation, the suit stated.
Ehrlich often forced Ericson into conversations in which she jokingly said she was a lesbian, implicitly making jokes that being a homosexual would be a last resort or lifestyle choice, the suit stated.
Ehrlich called and texted Ericson at all hours, always expecting immediate responses even outside of the plaintiff’s work hours, the suit stated.
Ehrlich often required Ericson to stay in the office after hours, during which time she would drink alcohol and make personal calls, according to the suit, which further alleged Ericson did not receive timely rest and meal breaks.
Ericson resigned in March 2020 because he could not longer endure the allegedly intolerable work conditions, the suit stated.