SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A former Nine Line Apparel employee is suing the company, claiming they discriminated against her because she is a woman.
Brandy Mai says her bosses at Nine Line Apparel, including fellow veteran and acting CEO Tyler Merritt, created a “misogynistic, chaotic, and conflicting work environment.”
“I was not a veteran that they helped,” she said.
Mai came on board as a marketing director for Nine Line Apparel back in 2015.
At the time, co-founder of the company Daniel Merrit told the Savannah CEO, “We view her appointment as a sign of our commitment to the nation’s veterans, and I’m confident she will help us achieve those goals.”.
Prior to her time at Nine Line, Mai served in the U.S. Army as a public affairs specialist.
It was there, she says, that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“I was raped by my Army recruiter so that’s where it pinpoints back to,” said Mai. “My time in the service kind of exacerbated that — and I’ve spent a lot of years working on it.”
In the lawsuit, Mai said Nine Line — known for its very public pro-veteran stance — failed to accommodate her needs as a disabled person.
“Anybody, that has known me for any period of time knows that I have PTSD, knows that I am a veteran advocate,” said Mai. “You know, they knew that I asked for a clear list of duties, a clear line of authority, a clear chain of command and it never got any less discriminatory and chaotic for me.”
According to the suit, Nine Line reduced her salary by $20,000 and demoted her within the first 90 days of employment. Mai says they cited excessive phone use and lack of attendance as the reason.
Shortly after, Mai said she lost her cool with a male colleague, leading to a written reprimand.
“I never could establish a pattern of what my objectives were, what I was supposed to do,” said Mai. “I didn’t know who I was supposed to answer to and it was a moving target all the time.”
At the company’s annual 5K, Mai said the situation reached a breaking point when Merritt told her she couldn’t conduct interviews because they wanted a man to do it.
When she walked away, Mai said Merritt followed her.
“He proceeded to yell at me, get in my face threaten me, said he just wanted to strangle me,” explained Mai.
After several attempts to address the outburst, Mai was fired.
“I said, ‘Okay, I understand, can I get my things? They said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘We don’t want anyone seeing you,'” said Mai. “‘Get the things we need you to leave the premises right now you can come back on a weekend when you won’t be seen.'”
Mai’s termination letter states she would be eligible for rehire in 2017 and letters of recommendation could be requested from senior management.
In legal filings, Nine Line denies any wrongdoing. News 3 reached out, but they would not comment on the lawsuit.
They are, however, pursuing a legal motion, which could bar Mai from speaking publicly about her case.
New 3 will continue to follow this story.