Just days after Stuart Weitzman announced that Giovanni Morelli would leave after just a year as creative director for unspecified reasons related to his behavior, the creative and the New York-based footwear brand have been slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to the complaint, which was filed on Tuesday in a New York state court, Thomas Gibb, the brand’s VP of product development & production of footwear, alleged that Morelli subjected him to “repeated” sexual harassment, including “numerous unwanted touchings and endless comments.”
Mr. Gibb’s complaint alleges that Morelli “constantly injected sexually charged conversation and innuendo into the workplace,” including giving staff members nicknames, such as “Tommy Straight,” which Morelli allegedly called Gibb to refer to his sexual orientation, ultimately creating what the plaintiff describes as “a hostile work environment” and “making those around him, including Mr. Gibb, extremely uncomfortable.”
Aside from verbal offenses, Gibb claims that Morelli touched his body in ways that were “unwelcome, offensive and inappropriate.”
The suit does not merely target Morelli, though. Gibb claims that defendants Stuart Weitzman and its parent Tapestry Inc. are also in the wrong, as even though he filed a formal complaint with the footwear brand’s human resources department, Stuart Weitzman and Tapestry Inc. did nothing about it. According to Gibb’s complaint, Tapestry “effectively allowed Mr. Morelli to operate outside the normal confines of acceptable conduct and made seemingly endless excuses and exceptions for him” because Morelli was the “face” of the brand.
“HR refused to take any action whatsoever and the sexual harassment continued,” the complaint asserts. Gibb alleges that instead of taking action, Tapestry and the Stuart Weitzman brand ignored his allegations and did not take action against Morelli until Mr. Gibb got a lawyer, at which point Tapestry and Stuart Weitzman “permit[ed]” Morelli to step down.
“The company accommodated Mr. Morelli by allowing the internal and external statements to be that he resigned rather than being terminated,” the lawsuit states. And still yet, Gibb claims that in addition to attempting to “shield itself from liability,” Tapestry and Stuart Weitzman used the resignation as an opportunity to “gain favorable publicity for [the] Stuart Weitzman” brand, as noted by the Hollywood Reporter.
Gibbs is seeking unspecified monetary damages, as well as injunctive relief, the latter of which would bar any and all Tapestry employees from engaging in similar behavior.
According to a statement from Tapestry, “While we historically have not commented on pending litigation, we can confirm that the Wigdor firm, representing Mr. Gibb, wrote to our General Counsel on May 15, 2018. On that date, the Company commenced an investigation which ultimately resulted in the announcement on May 21, 2018, regarding the resignation of Giovanni Morelli.”