20 Jun 2018

Former accuser accused as Tapestry hits back with lawsuit

After being rocked by a sexual harassment lawsuit, Stuart Weitzman has hit back with a lawsuit of its own.

Stuart Weitzman

Last month Thomas Gibb, a former executive, filed a complaint against Stuart Weitzman’s former creative director Giovanni Morelli. In a statement, a Tapestry spokesperson confirmed the litigation. ‘While we historically have not commented on pending litigation, we can confirm that the Wigdor firm, representing Mr Gibb, wrote to our General Counsel on May 15, 2018. On that date, the company commenced an investigation which ultimately resulted in the announcement on May 21, 2018, regarding the resignation of Giovanni Morelli.’ Since then, however, Tapestry has followed this up with a suit claiming breach of his employment agreement by being involved in another footwear brand.

Conflicts of interest

Stuart Weitzman’s parent company Tapestry has filed a complaint in New York state court, alleging that its former VP of product development and production of footwear Thomas Gibb failed to 'truthfully disclose any potential conflicts of interests he had with Tapestry' and for 'stealing' Tapestry’s 'confidential information for his own personal [benefit].' The Tapestry complaint names both Mr Gibb and Tidal New York, the American-made flip flop company he co-founded in 2015. Mr Gibb had entered into an employment agreement with Tapestry in February 2017, agreeing to 'act in the best interest of the company and to avoid any situation that creates or appears to create a conflict of interest between personal interests and the interests of Tapestry.' He also signed a confidentiality agreement, and a provision stating ‘employees may not own, either directly or indirectly, a substantial interest in any business entity that ... is in competition with Tapestry.’ Substantial interest is defined as ownership over 5 per cent.

NYT reveals breach

A report in the May 28 edition of the New York Times revealed Mr Gibb is a co-founder and active participant in the Tidal footwear brand. In a statement, Tapestry said ‘Recently, we learned of Thomas Gibb’s ongoing leadership of a separate footwear company, Tidal New York. The extent of Mr Gibb’s involvement had been unknown to us, and following this revelation, we commenced an investigation into Mr. Gibb’s involvement with the company.  The investigation plainly revealed a series of violations of our company policies.  We are compelled to take these actions today as a result of our findings.’ The Tapestry claim is for ‘breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of loyalty and diversion of corporate opportunities, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment.’