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Ex-Victoria’s Secret manager at Bangor Mall says her age, plus-size got her fired

Bangor Mall (Lori Valigra | BDN)

BANGOR (BDN) -- A former manager at the Victoria’s Secret in the Bangor Mall has sued the firm claiming she was fired for not fitting the company’s image that its lingerie is for young and skinny women.

Kelly Merchant, 50, of Bradley claims she was let go in June 2015 because she is a plus-sized woman, then in her late 40s.

The company claims Merchant was fired for theft.

Merchant’s attorney, Brett Baber of Bangor, denied that allegation, saying she used a coupon for a purchase against company policy.

Merchant claims she was fired because she did not fit the lingerie

company’s sales model “based on a body image of young, very attractive and slim women, a concept known within [Victoria’s Secret] as [the] ‘brand/company image.’”

The company denied that allegation in its answer to the complaint, filed by John Hamer, a Bangor attorney working with a Columbus, Ohio, law firm that represents Victoria’s Secret.

The firm’s attorneys, Andrew C. Smith and Cory D. Catignani, declined Wednesday afternoon to comment on the case.

Victoria’s Secret does not have a plus-size line on its website. The company does not sell above a size XL — a size 16 — or above a DDD-cup size bra, according to Business Insider.

Merchant’s complaint alleged that Victoria’s Secret violated the Maine Human Rights Act “when it illegally terminated [Merchant] due to her age and non-compliance with [the company’s] impermissible stereotype of what an attractive woman should look like.”

Baber said Wednesday that Merchant still works in retail in Bangor but earns a lower salary than she did as a manager at Victoria’s Secret.

Merchant seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, attorney’s fees and an injunction ordering the company to comply with the provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act.

The lawsuit originally was filed last month in state court. Attorneys for Victoria’s Secret moved it last week to U.S. District Court in Bangor.

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