A federal lawsuit filed in Connecticut district court alleges that Vineyard Vines — the preppy fashion wear brand that has become synonymous with Edgartown summers — fostered a discriminatory workplace culture that favored young men over more experienced women.

In an 18-page complaint filed June 17, former employee Anne Dauer, 57, argues that she was fired from her job as senior vice president of retail after receiving heart surgery, and was replaced with a less experienced and younger male employee. The complaint also alleges that Ms. Dauer’s firing was in line with company culture that often exhibited gender and age-discriminatory practices and unfair compensation.

The complaint describes an alleged “increasingly ageist, sexist culture,” that was cultivated inside the company over a period of years.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman and chief legal counsel for Vineyard Vines, Justin Zamparelli, disputed the claims and said the company plans to vigorously contest the lawsuit in court.

“We take these allegations very seriously, but they are false,” the statement from Mr. Zamparelli said in part.

Vineyard Vines was started in the early 1990s by Shep and Ian Murray — two brothers and Edgartown summer residents who began selling silk neckties out of a Jeep on the Island. The brothers opened their first retail location in Edgartown and later expanded the whale-emblazoned clothing throughout the first two decades of the 21st century into its now-iconic global brand.

According to the complaint, Vineyard Vines brought in more than $260 million in sales in 2019. There are three Vineyard Vines retail stores on the Island — one in Edgartown, one in Oak Bluffs and one in Vineyard Haven. The Murray brothers are still owners and co-chief executive officers. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn.

The complaint details the particulars of Ms. Dauer’s firing and the company culture that she alleges led to it, including a desire by the Murray brothers to replace older, female store employees with younger men.

“For example, at company management meetings, Ian Murray repeatedly stated that there were ‘too many middle-aged women around the table’ and that Vineyard Vines needed to bring in younger points of view,” the complaint argues. “The Murray brothers frequently remarked that they needed the retail stores staffed more by young men fitting an all-American ‘college-aged’ look.”

Ms. Dauer was originally informed that her job had been eliminated and had nothing to do with her job performance, the complaint says. But when Ms. Dauer raised her dispute, the company shifted, according to the complaint, telling her that the firing was performance-related.

The complaint alleges that other women in management roles, including a human resources executive and store managers, were fired and replaced by young men. It also argues that women in managerial or executive roles were paid less than men in similar positions.

“In short, after 13 years of service, overseeing the remarkable growth of Vineyard Vines’ retail operation, plaintiff, a 57-year-old woman, was fired within days of returning from a short medical leave. Her treatment . . . was in keeping with an ageist and sexist culture instilled by the company’s founders,” the complaint says.

In his statement, Mr. Zamparelli further disputed the complaint's allegations and noted that Vineyard Vines has numerous high-ranking female executives.

“While Anne (Dauer) Danielsen was a valued member of our team for many years, she was terminated based on her performance and on the performance of the retail business under her leadership over the past three years,” he wrote. “Vineyard Vines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. Today, women make up about half of the Vineyard Vines' senior leadership team. As we contest this lawsuit, we will maintain our unwavering commitment to our team and our customers.”

The complaint includes counts of equal pay violations, as well as gender, disability and age discrimination and seeks financial relief and damages from the company.