Things are not going so well for Marc Jacobs International’s President Robert Duffy. Over the weekend, one of Marc Jacobs’ interns had a meltdown on Twitter, and called Duffy a “tyrant,” and now Duffy (below, right), along with the brand’s parent company LVMH, is being sued by former chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Marc Jacobs International, Patrice Lataillade. According to Lataillade, he was “subjected to a discriminatory environment offensive to him” and was “fired in retaliation for objecting to that environment.”
In his complaint, Lataillade documents the brand’s hostile work environment, which included Duffy’s “production and dissemination of a book that included photos of MJI staff in sexual positions or nude,” among other charges. The suit also alleges that Duffy “uses company funds for personal expenses and does not censor what he does or says.” There’s more: Duffy reportedly forced a Marc Jacobs store employee to “perform a pole dance for him.”
According to the complaint, Duffy’s conduct was so well-known that when the company’s human resources department drew up a sexual harassment policy last year, they didn’t actually disseminate it “because of a concern that it would anger Duffy.” Lataillade, who started working at MJI in 2002 as its CEO and was promoted to COO in 2006, said he “complained about Duffy’s behavior and requested, on numerous occasions, that Duffy’s creation of a sexually charged workplace be stopped, but nothing was done,” the suit says.
Duffy’s alleged victims (there were several sexual harassment cases brought or floated against Duffy since 2002) also didn’t have much success with their complaints, with the company lawyer telling a young female employee she needed a “thicker skin” and a male employee to “go home early and have a drink,” the suit says.
LVMH denies Lataillade’s claims, releasing the following statement: “The allegations contained in the complaint are false. Patrice Lataillade was terminated as chief financial officer and chief operating officer of MJI for serious matters unrelated to the allegations contained in the complaint. MJI, LVMH Inc. and Robert Duffy will vigorously defend the case in court.”