HomeNewsLevi’s Brand President Claims She Was Forced Out Over Stance on COVID-19-Related School Closings

Levi’s Brand President Claims She Was Forced Out Over Stance on COVID-19-Related School Closings

by TK Sanders
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images for Levi's)

A veteran of the clothing industry and executive at Levi Strauss & Co. said the company just forced her out for speaking up against school closures during the pandemic. Jennifer Sey, Levi’s brand president up until this week, said that the company also offered her $1 million in severance to buy her silence; but she refused the offer, and has chosen to speak out, instead.

Her first such public statement took place in Bari Weiss’ popular “Common Sense” Substack newsletter. Substack is a digital service that offers writers a chance to connect with subscribers directly via free or paid newsletters.

In the post, Sey told readers that Levi’s fired her from a job she had held for over two decades. She said that she turned down the hefty severance offer because she didn’t want to “have to sign a nondisclosure agreement about why [she’d] been pushed out.”

According to Sey, her employer always supported her outspokenness when it applied to issues that they agreed with; but once the Democratic party drew a line in the sand regarding school closures during COVID, her vocal defiance of the allowed narrative allegedly led to her firing. Sey also said she has been a vocal supporter of children regardless of politics.

“I’ve been a Democrat my entire voting life,” Sey said in an interview following her Substack post. “I feel the party has abandoned their principles and I find myself quite politically homeless.

“Free speech and kids are not ‘right wing’ issues. And it should not be considered beyond the pale to stand up for these things; or even be ‘right wing’ for that matter,” she continued. “It certainly shouldn’t make one unemployable.”

Sey Refused to Stay Silent

Not only did Sey refuse the company’s money, but she put her own money where her mouth was by moving her kids out of California altogether. She said she felt determined to find them in-class learning, and it took a move to Colorado to find it. She also continued to speak out against closures in the media. Levi’s fired her after her appearance on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. She said she assumed her appearance was “the last straw” for the clothing manufacturer.

What came next is no surprise for followers of modern political mud slinging. Her former Democratic friends apparently came out of the woodwork to label her a racist, despite her many years of promoting racial causes and even parenting two black children. Levi’s head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion tried to fix the “problem” by sending her on an “apology tour,” but she refused.

Sey also wrote that current Levi’s CEO Charles Bergh told her last fall that she “was on track to become the next CEO” of Levi’s. But that the only thing holding her back “was her” and “the school thing.”

“It’s wrong to stifle speech and dissent,” Sey said publicly. “This isn’t a Levi’s issue, it’s a broader cultural issue. We seem to have lost the ability to converse, to disagree, to debate and still respect each other.”

Sey also noted that many people in many different capacities contacted her to show support. According to Sey, many HR departments currently consider “anything that goes against the current orthodoxy — on COVID or other issues — to be a violation.”

In response to Sey’s comments, Levi’s made a general announcement regarding their future plans.

“Today, Levi Strauss & Co. announced management changes affecting our executive leadership team. Seth Ellison, EVP & Chief Commercial Officer will assume responsibility as the Levi’s brand president. He will serve on an interim basis in addition to his commercial duties. Ellison replaces Jen Sey, who resigned from the company.”