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Missy Empire faces toxic workplace culture allegations

Missy Empire

Former Missy Empire staff have accused the fashion retailer of being a toxic workplace full of bullying and demeaning behaviour. 

Around 18 ex-female workers claimed the company's culture was especially hostile towards young women.

They cited abusive treatment predominantly from Ash Siddique, the managing director.

These workers said incidents where Siddique allegedly made inappropriate comments about the body shape and appearance of models.

He also demanded that staff model clothing for him. 

Accusations also included instances of bullying, with reports of staff being yelled at and sworn at. 

Seven people claimed they were terminated without justification, while two mentioned difficulties retaining copies of their employment contracts.

Company owners reportedly ignored the formal complaints. 

Allegations of inappropriate comments and bullying

The employees’ charges are backed by evidence such as screenshots, emails, and personal testimonies reviewed by The Guardian. 

The affected roles were mainly held by young female employees, who experienced a high rate of dismissals and departures. 

Workers informed JD Sports and Frasers Group, subsequent majority stakeholders of Missy Empire in 2021 and 2022, respectively, through multiple complaints since April 2022.

A JD group spokesperson said while it was majority shareholder for 18 months, Missy Empire was “responsible for the day-to-day running of the business, including its own HR procedures.” 

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Frasers Group failed to respond to a request for comment.

Employees claimed their attempts to lodge complaints were stymied by the HR department's email being controlled by Siddique.

Siddique is the managing director's brother and a co-founder of Missy Empire.

Further grievances include unpaid overtime and lunch breaks, with allegations of pay deductions for late returns from breaks. 

The spokesperson for JD Group said Missy Empire staff could “escalate any concerns through JD’s department or whistleblowing policy”.

It added a “small number of issues” had been formally reported to the company, which were “investigated and addressed” by its procedures.

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