A Louis Vuitton employee was told to tolerate sexual harassment because it’s part of “French culture,” and what?
Andowah Newton, vice president of legal affairs at Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), filed an official complaint detailing her harassment by a senior LVMH employee for several years. But when she tried to tell the company about it, her manager told her, in so many words, that she should just deal with it.
Newton's manager told her that harassment is “just a byproduct of being an attractive woman who works at a company with a French culture, and thus, should simply be tolerated.
Newton also tried to confront her harasser via email and was told that she should “apologize to the harasser, and promote the harasser to a new position.”
Newton described in her lawsuit that her harasser would “leer” at her, try to kiss her, and once thrust “his pelvis and genitals into her face.” As for the kissing complaint, a senior level executive at LVMH tried to explain to her that it’s “what executives do in a French company.” The harassment and the shocking responses from management happened in New York City between 2015 and 2018.
Frustrated with the response from her colleagues, Newton eventually filed a formal complaint with human resources. Unfortunately—and like so many workplace harassment situations—the company led an internal and a third-party investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing. Additionally, LVMH referred to Newton’s harasser in their investigation documents as a “a member of the company’s facilities staff” even though Newton identified him as “a senior level management employee. ” Newton called their investigation a “sham” and says she was maligned for “unjustifiably attacking” the man.
On Tuesday, April 23rd in New York City, Newton filed a lawsuit against the French fashion conglomerate. We stand with her and anyone else abused in the workplace or otherwise. This needs to end now.