Jeffrey Cook, an openly gay, executive working for Perry Ellis' in-house Penguin line, has filed a federal lawsuit against against the menswear brand and its president and current chief operating officer, Oscar Feldenkreis. In his lawsuit, Cook accuses Feldenkreis, widely believed to be in talks to become the company's CEO next year, of using “highly offensive, homophobic, racial and ethnic slurs" in the workplace.
According to Cook, Feldenkreis would often give him explicit instructions regarding ad campaigns that the company would green light. Cook was never to include black people or men who "looked to gay." In one particularly noxious instance, Cook's lawsuit recounts, Feldenkreis suggested that Cook could avoid jury duty by saying that he "hated niggers and fags."
Cook says that when he attempted to bring Feldenkreis' behavior to the attention of Perry Ellis' HR department, he was ignored and people within the company “orchestrated a campaign designed to isolate and exclude him.”
"[Perry Ellis] suffers from dominant family control at both the management and board levels, which enables Mr. Feldenkreis's discriminatory behavior and conduct and deters employees like Mr. Cook from complaining," the claim reads. "By way of example only, the company's human resources department reports to Fanny Hanono, the company's executive vice president of administration, who is Mr. Feldenkreis's sister."
Perry Ellis could not be reached for comment.