comscore Former Jeans Warehouse CEO sues over sexual orientation discrimination | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Former Jeans Warehouse CEO sues over sexual orientation discrimination

  • The Jeans Warehouse Facebook page is seen in this screenshot.

  • RAD KANDA / RKANDA@STARADVERTISER.COM

The former chief executive officer of Hawaii-based retailer Jeans Warehouse Inc. has filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the employer, claiming sexual orientation discrimination.

William Estill, 65, was dismissed by the Jeans Warehouse board before the 2014 holiday sales season and claims that he was subjected to anti-gay comments and hostility by company officials.

Estill, who is openly gay, was told he was fired for performance reasons despite the company posting record-breaking sales and profits during 2012 and 2013, the complaint said. Estill also acted as the company’s chief operating officer for Cindy Mikami, who took time off to care for her ailing husband, the complaint said.

“Despite weak market conditions and unexpected demands, Mr. Estill guided Jeans Warehouse to steady growth as CEO and acting COO,” says Dallas attorney Rogge Dunn of Clouse Dunn LLP, who represents Estill along with attorneys from Honolulu’s law office of Eric Seitz. “Coming off a record year, the only reason a company would replace its CEO is if the decision is based on something other than actual performance.”

The lawsuit claims board member Linda Holt and Mikami made anti-gay comments during the 4 1/2 years he worked for the company. The lawsuit includes claims of discrimination and disparate treatment, retaliatory termination and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Shortly before his dismissal, Estill formally complained about Holt’s and Mikami’s behavior, the complaint said.

“He expected the company to take his concerns seriously,” Dunn said. “But instead, he was subjected to continued ridicule and insults of a personal nature that culminated with his obviously illegal dismissal.”

Mikami said she was aware of the complaint but did not want to comment until she had read it.

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  • Discrimination is wrong and this company will learn a lesson the hard way. The days of George Wallace standing in front of the school house door are long gone.

      • whether or not in court will they get there chance, if a comment or comments were made at work about someones’ sexual preference, you either heard what you heard at that moment or you didn’t. I can bet, that at least one comment about his sexual orientation was said at work or he would have never filed the charge. The problem is that the owners didn’t make it clear that they are a faith based company and hire as such. I know that sounds wonky, but at least the applicants know where they stand. Not sure if its legal or if its a smart marketing move to deem your company as such, either way, full disclosure would have been nice. Now he will probably receive some damages and the company’s reputation will be tarnished.

        • Do you factually know of things not printed in the article or just speculating? I know of several instances where people not hired or fired from companies made ridiculous allegations about the company not founded on fact. In a couple of situations the person had a history of filing charges against companies for the same thing. I’m not defending Jeans Warehouse. What I’m saying is that there’s often another side of the story.

        • Well that’s why a report was taken to make the charge and now it will be up to the system to determine merit. This is an at will state which means you could get fire for any reason.

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