LVMH is facing another drama with one of its executives, this time with Marc Jacobs' CEO Patrick Duffy. Duffy and LVMH are both named in a lawsuit by Patrice Lataillade, the company's former chief operation officer. Lataillade is suing over an 'oppressively gay' office.
Duffy, who has been the brawn behind the super-successful Jacobs brand since it was founded might not be known for discretion or modesty. Just a week ago an angry Marc Jacobs worker let loose on Twitter describing Duffy as a "tyrant". But this assault in the courts – he, the company and LVMH are named as defendants – is a more serious challenge to his prestige. While the fashion world may be prone to bursts of diva behaviour, Paris-based LVMH has not always shown mercy. Recall its summary firing of John Galliano last month after his anti-Semitic rants in a Paris bar leaked into public view.
So far, however, LVMH is choosing to stand by Duffy, even though the suit, which was filed in a Manhattan court last week, also includes the allegation Duffy used company funds for private use. The luxury goods giant described the claims as "false" and rejected suggestions Lataillade had been fired because of his complaints about management.
The suit further complains of Duffy "displaying gay pornography in the office and requiring employees to look at it" and of indulging in the "production and dissemination of a book which included photos of MJI staff in sexual positions or nude". Finally there is the startling charge that he required "an MJI store employee to perform a pole dance for him".
The suit also attempts to suggest a pattern of Mr Duffy refusing to take the protestations of his employees seriously. On one occasion, he allegedly told a female employee "to get a thicker skin" and on another he suggested to a male worker that he "go home early and get a drink".
Lataillade first began working for LVMH in 1996 and moved across to Marc Jacobs in 2002 and was promoted to the positions of chief operation and chief financial officer five years ago. He seemingly reached breaking point last September when he instructed his lawyers to voice a formal complaint in an email "summarising the legal situation and the hostile environment" at the firm. He was sacked one week later.
Jacobs is not named in the suit.
Image: Patrick Duffy & Marc Jacobs