HR Grapevine - Employee told to 'tolerate' workplace harassment

An interesting article from HR Grapevine covering workplace harassment at a well know fashion brand. 

Louis Vuitton Employee told to 'tolerate' workplace harassment

The high fashion industry is known for its historic controversies, yet most brands have accepted that success means moving with the times and adopting a progressive stance on employee wellness and HR policy.

However, the latest allegations against Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) – the multi-national conglomerate that owns such iconic brands as Dior, Sephora and Marc Jacobs – has found them embroiled in a sexual harassment case – an issue it claims is simply down to its ‘French culture’.

The case was filed by Vice President of Legal Affairs and LVMH Litigation Council member Andowah Newton, who claims that she was harassed by a senior employee multiple times between 2015 and 2018, reported The Cut.

The report states that Newton alerted the company to the issue, only to be told that such harassment was “just a by-product of being an attractive woman who works for a company with a French culture, and thus, should be tolerated”.

The report also claims that the abuser would “leer” at her and one “thrusted his pelvis and genitals into her face,” whilst attempting to kiss her constantly. The director of talent simply shrugged these accusations off as “what executives do in a French company”.

In a statement released by Louis Vuitton, the brand publicly denied the allegations and stated “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.”

The news comes as research released by Totaljobs claims that three in five workers want to ban all physical contact in the workplace.

The study, which surveyed over 2,000 British employees, found that a significant amount of the workplace population find all physical contact in professional settings inappropriate or confusing, and consider the issue a social “minefield”.

One in four not only agreed that such contact should be banned, but that they themselves had actively avoided a colleague or client due to how they greet people in their career.

“Whether it’s an unwanted hug or a mistimed kiss on the cheek, our research suggests that workplace greetings have the potential to stray beyond awkward and could have a real impact on job satisfaction and productivity,” Alexandra Sydney, Marketing Director at Totaljobs, commented.

“This is why more than two-thirds of workers are calling for clearer guidelines on the amount of contact, and greetings used in the workplace.”