Jennifer Sey: Ex-Levi's executive lauded after she was ousted for slamming school closures

Jennifer Sey, the chief marketer at Levi Strauss, was forced to resign from her position after she said that schools should remain open during Covid


                            Jennifer Sey: Ex-Levi's executive lauded after she was ousted for slamming school closures
People have praised Jennifer Sey for speaking out her mind against school closures (Levi Strauss & Co)
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Jennifer Sey, the chief marketer for Levi Strauss, was forced to resign from her position after voicing her opinion that schools should remain open during the Covid pandemic.

The 20-year veteran of Levi's, who has been a global brand president since 2020, poured her thoughts in an essay published on writer Bari Weiss's Substack. She wrote that the company's CEO Chip Bergh offered her a $1 million severance package in exchange for her signature on a nondisclosure agreement, but she declined the offer so she could "keep my voice". The mother-of-four chronicled her rise through the ranks at the popular apparel company, where she started as an assistant marketing manager in 1999.

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Sey said that during her two-decade tenure with the brand, she “always felt encouraged to bring my full self to work—including my political advocacy.” However, she was pressured by Levi’s legal, human resources, and communications teams to be less vocal when she started publicly questioning pandemic-related school closures on the news, social media, and some rallies. “I felt—and still do—that the draconian policies would cause the most harm to those least at risk, and the burden would fall heaviest on disadvantaged kids in public schools, who need the safety and routine of school the most,” Sey wrote. A spokesperson from the company told Forbes that Sey's brand duties will be handed over to Chief Commercial Officer Seth Ellison on an interim basis until a replacement is found.

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Sey said she urged company bosses to speak out on school closures despite the pushback, noting that Levi's had a history of addressing political issues that affected its employees, including LGBTQ rights, voting rights, and immigration. “I refused to stop talking,” she wrote. “I kept calling out hypocritical and unproven policies.” Sey discussed her views in a March interview on Fox News with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. This prompted fellow Levi's employees to brand her “anti-trans”, “anti-fat”, and “racist.”

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Sey, who even moved her family from California to Denver so her kindergartener could attend in-person school, said she was asked to go on an "apology tour" following her Fox News interview. She refused to comply, despite CEO Bergh allegedly telling her she was on her way to becoming his successor only if she would “stop talking about the school thing”. 

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Sey, however, was lauded on social media for standing up for her beliefs.

"@JenniferSey was right about schools. She was loud & persistent, & has been proven right over and over. But she was right too early, not in the exquisite, too-late, all-the-damage-is-done timing of the elites. I look forward to continuing to hear her," journalist Mary Katharine Ham tweeted.

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"America isn’t a country that forces you to choose between speaking your mind and putting food on the dinner table. Let’s keep it that way," entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy added.

"My friend ⁦@JenniferSey⁩ has been standing up for our kids for DECADES without fear of favor. I’m not surprised she stood up to another Goliath who wanted to silence her," Fox News host Janice Dean chimed in.

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"While I knew you were a badass, I didn't realize the depths until I read my email this morning. Much respect to you for standing up for what is consistent with your values, despite enormous pressure, and not falling into groupthink," author Kati Kleber tweeted to Sey.

Meanwhile, actor Britt Griffith bemoaned, "I was a die-hard @LEVIS wearer ALL my life. Then the crazy woke stuff started. I am now brand drifting, i seem to be settling on @Wrangler. So sad as Levi’s once represented rugged individualism, work hard, succeed."

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