LVMH Inc’s vice president of legal affairs has filed a lawsuit in New York that accuses the company of failing to properly investigate claims of sexual misconduct.
The $50 billion conglomerate, which is home to TAG Heuer, Hublot, Zenith and Bulgari, has been attacked by Andowah Newton for “sham investigations” into assertions that a senior manager leered at her and made inappropriate comments.
In a filing at the state court in Manhattan, Ms Newton says the company’s New York-based team protected the manager after she brought his conduct to senior executives.
She says that between 2015 and 2018, “a senior level management employee” at LVMH subjected her to “a persistent and invasive campaign” of harassment – from comments, such as “You are so pretty. And that beautiful smile … I just can’t get enough of it,” to physical contact, including pinning her against her desk chair and “thrusting his pelvis and genitals into her face and pressing his body firmly against hers.”
Her complaint also claims that LVMH tried to “intimidate Ms. Newton into not pursuing her claims and [attempted to] convince Ms. Newton that the harassment was just a byproduct of being an attractive woman who works at a company with a French culture, and thus, should simply be tolerated.”
Speaking to legal website The Fashion Law, a representative for LVMH said: “There is no merit whatsoever to the allegations in Ms. Newton’s suit. LVMH has clear policies prohibiting harassment and retaliation in the workplace and procedures to address any concerns raised. Consistent with this, when Ms. Newton first shared her concerns with us in May 2018, we immediately conducted an internal investigation, as well as engaged a neutral, third party to conduct an external investigation. Neither of these investigations found any evidence to support Ms. Newton’s claims.”
“Moreover, Ms Newton has not been retaliated against in any way and remains an employee of the company,” the statement further notes. “It should be noted that the harassment allegations relate to a member of the company’s staff and not a member of the Company’s ‘senior management,’ as Ms. Newton falsely states in her suit. We intend to vigorously defend our position.”
Ms Newton is still listed as vice president, legal affairs and litigation counsel at LVMH on her LinkedIn profile.