Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the fashion conglomerate that owns Dior, Sephora, and Marc Jacobs, is being sued for allegedly ignoring sexual-harassment complaints and trying to pass off harassment as “French culture.”
Andowah Newton, who is currently LVMH’s litigation counsel and vice-president of legal affairs, filed the complaint in New York on Tuesday. She claims that she was harassed by a senior employee between 2015 and 2018. When she alerted the company, she says a manager tried to convince her 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.”
The suit claims that the unnamed harasser would “leer” at her, and once “lunged” across her, “thrusting his pelvis and genitals into her face.” He would also frequently allegedly attempt to kiss Newton either as a greeting or in celebration. The director of talent allegedly told Newton that the kissing was “what executives do in a French company.”
Newton says she alerted in-house counsel on multiple occasions between 2015 and 2018 before lodging an official complaint in May 2018. The company launched both an internal and a third-party investigation. LVMH says the investigations did not find any evidence of wrongdoing. However, Newton says the company only agreed to an investigation “reluctantly” and that the investigation was a “sham.” She also says she was slammed for “unjustifiably attacking” the man.
LVMH denied the allegations in a statement. “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.”
LVMH and Newton’s accounts differ on who was harassing her. LVMH’s statement says it was “a member of the company’s facilities staff,” while Newton describes him as, “a senior level management employee. ”