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Attorney Sues Luxury Brand for Sexual Harassment

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc. is being sued by one of its top in-house lawyers for sexual harassment by another senior employee, who is unnamed in the suit.
Andowah Newton is Vice-President of Legal Affairs and Litigation Counsel at the company. Before coming to LVMH in 2015, she spent eight years practicing at large law firms. The harassment at LVMH purportedly began shortly after her hire when this male employee told her she was “so pretty” and began lingering outside her office while making her “feel as though he was undressing her with his eyes.” On one occasion, this male employee is said to have thrust “his pelvis and genitals into her face” and protested when he would not allow him to kiss her cheeks. Newton asserted that she complained several times over the years about the harassment and in fact, complained by email directly to the harasser to leave her alone in 2018. Newton forwarded this email to the in-house counsel, who Newton alleges responded by saying that he now had to report it. Newton claims that she was interviewed after the email but stated that the interviewer seemed more concerned with Newton’s language in the email than the allegations and the matter was quickly closed. The senior director is alleged to have told Newtown that the conduct was to be expected of a French company although Newton noted in her complaint that the harasser was not French. Shortly thereafter, Newton filed a formal complaint with the senior vice-president of human resources and the company did hire an outside investigator. Newton did not believe the investigator was neutral, alleging that the investigator seemed determined to exonerate her harasser and compared #MeToo to McCarthyism.
Following her internal complaint, Newton alleged that she was retaliated against as evidenced by the general counsel’s taking more control over her cases and Newton receiving increased reprimands on her performance that previously had been received positively.
LMVH denied the allegations and stated they have “no merit whatsoever.” The company referenced its policies prohibiting harassment and retaliation, and noted that the investigations conducted did not find support for Newton’s claims.