by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Founder & Publisher

February 4, 2013 (TSR) – Gibraltar-born British designer John Galliano, 52, won the first round hearing on Monday at Paris’s Conseil de prud’hommes, or Labor Relations Court, in which the court ruled in favor of the disgraced designer and agreed to hear his case against his former employer of 15 years as creative director, Christian Dior Couture.

Dior fired John Galliano after he was arrested on 2011 in the chic Marais district after he allegedly insulted a Jewish woman and her Asian boyfriend in La Perle bar with his “antisemitic and racist insults” in a drunken rant.

Galliano, who denied the accusation with detectives having no third-party witnesses, fell from grace when a video surfaced that was shot in La Perle showing Galliano telling two women: “I love Hitler. People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed.” (See video below) His then lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, said the designer was counter-suing the couple for defamation. However, two days later, a second woman came forward claiming Galliano had similarly insulted her in the same bar in October.

As counter-punch, Galliano appeared before an employment French tribunal claiming wrongful dismissal according to his lawyer, Chantal Giraud-van Gaver of Coblence & Associés.

The court ruled that it was fit to hear the designer’s claims against his dismissal from Dior in March 2011.

Maître Chantal Giraud-van Gaver, Galliano’s lawyer, told the tribunal that he was dismissed “without a serious or real cause”  and that Galliano was suffering from alcohol, Valium and sleeping pills addiction which makes it illegal to fire an employee for health reasons under French law.

Galliano filed an employee/employer dispute against Dior and his namesake label John Galliano, both still owned by LVMH, back in August and are seeking €15 million (£12.9m) in compensation from the French fashion house.

Jean Néret of Jeantet Associés, the lawyer representing Christian Dior Couture and John Galliano (the label not the person), contested the court filing, arguing the case should be heard by a commercial court, rather than a labor court, because of the complicated nature of the contracts linking Galliano with the two firms.

Néret claimed that since Galliano was linked to the two labels by a multitude of contracts, some of which included consultancy agreements, he was more of an independent contractor than a subordinate employee. Therefore, Néret argued, the Labor Relations court was not qualified to hear the case.

“John Galliano was no ordinary employee. In fact, I would go as far as saying he wasn’t an employee at all,” said Néret. “The complexity of his various contracts is sharply at odds with the image of a poor, defenseless employee which the opposing party is trying to project.”

A WWD report breaks down the financials: Galliano earned a fixed gross annual salary of 1 million euros (around $1.3 million at current exchange) at Christian Dior Couture, plus annual bonuses and “variable compensation” of up to 700,000 euros depending on sales figures (about $906,400), an annual wardrobe budget of 30,000 euros (about $38,850), and a grooming budget of 60,000 euros ($77,700) for personal appearances. And that was just for Christian Dior.

Under the eponymous John Galliano brand,  Galliano apparently earned a fixed gross salary of 2 million euros (roughly $2.6 million) minus a percentage dependent on how much money the house lost every year, since it never made a profit. He also got another annual clothing budget of 70,000 euros ($90,650). In addition, Galliano got paid separately as a consultant for Christian Dior Couture and Parfums Christian Dior on creative matters like ad campaigns, runway shows, and Websites.

According to Dior’s lawyers, Galliano commanded additional fees for consulting on his own brands’ ad campaigns and making appearances at catwalk shows.

Total maximum value of Galliano’s compensation per year, approximately: €3.86, or about $5.22 million.

However, Galliano’s lawyer Chantal Giraud-van Gaver argued that there’s no way the designer could have been considered a mere subcontractor, because his contracts with both Dior and his namesake label included exclusivity clauses. She also pointed out that Christian Dior Couture owned 91 percent of John Galliano, and that the designer was given several perks that likely would not have been granted to a subcontractor.

“Mister Galliano is perhaps no ordinary employee, due to the nature of his position and his notoriety, but he is an employee nonetheless,” she argued. “Would an external provider be supplied with a car and a chauffeur? Would he have a coach and a personal assistant? Would the company grant him stock options?”

Above the Law experts explain the reasoning both party’s argument, “Specialized labor courts are sometimes more pro-employee than commercial courts, which may explain why Galliano wanted the dispute heard in a labor court while Dior wanted it heard in a commercial court.”

Additionally, there wouldn’t be as much protection for a subcontractor–essentially a free agent–than for a regular employee.

Whatever the case, the court sided with Galliano, and rejected Dior’s claims to try to case in a Commercial Court. “For the time being, we are winning,” Giraud-van Gaver told WWD.

As for how much Galliano is actually suing for, Giraud-van Gaver reluctantly estimated that it would be for close to 6 million euros, or $7.77 million, which includes severance pay.

She added that the exact amount will depend on what case the court will agree to hear: “There are several arguments. One is based on nullity, one takes into account his health, one argues that his dismissal was ill-founded, so depending on what the court retains, there are different degrees of compensation involved,” she said.

Galliano did not make a statement during or after the court case, though WWD notes he was smiling when he left the courtroom. Dior has 15 days to contest the ruling–if they do, the case will drag on for even longer. Dior has not publicly commented on the case yet.

Christian Dior replaced Galliano with Raf Simons, former creative director for Jil Sanders right before Dior’s autumn/winter 2011 collection was unveiled.

Dior reportedly has 15 days to contest the ruling. If it opposes, the case will go to the court of appeals in seven to nine months. Galliano, meanwhile, has been in residence at Oscar de la Renta’s studio in New York, presumably helping the designer on his upcoming collection for New York Fashion Week.

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PERSONAL REMARKS:

Viewing the video below that implicated John Galliano in objective impartiality based on my personal social and psychological observations, it seems that it was taken out of context. The women were giggling and making conversations. It didn’t sound like they were offended. Galliano was indeed drunk and was expressing his own views, which he has every right to do so. See for yourself. This is a prime example of how twisted and manipulative this “anti-Semitic” propaganda by ultra-right wing has become. While I am not a proponent of any extreme views, there are many who feel this way about Hitler after they find out true historical facts and seeing what Zionists are doing to our world. Furthermore, I personally think that the world needs to get re-educated on the definition of SEMITE means. I can assure you that it includes Arabs and all world dictionaries backs me up. If that is the case, anyone who are part of the Islamophobia rants are just as “anti-Semitic”. It is time for everyone to know give credence to historical integrity and honesty, and not follow whatever savvy Jewish public relations propaganda campaign says.

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