A lawyer for Marc Jacobs International said in court papers this week that Patrice Lataillade, the company’s former chief financial and chief operating officer, was fired not because he blew the whistle on Robert Duffy‘s sexual harassment, but because he inflated the company’s financial performance by some $20 million.
The case alleges that Lataillade, who sued Duffy for harassment in March after he was fired from his $1 million-a-year job, padded the company’s coffers with extra millions so that he could collect big bonuses at the end of the year. The company says it figured out his scheme when it hired a new vice president of finance last July. Per The New York Post:
“Through his manipulation of MJI’s financial performance, Lataillade was able to extract hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonus payments for himself” that “he would not have received had Lataillade presented the true financial performance of MJI.”
The company also alleges, however subtly, that Lataillade’s suit is motivated by avarice. Why else would he sue a company that gave him a $10,000 annual car allowance, paid for his kids to attend top-notch schools and sent his entire family on vacation every year? As a party favor, the company’s lawyer included that Lataillade took out a $60,000 loan from the company that he was supposed to pay back by the end of 2009. A year and a half later, Marc Jacobs is still missing that money.
Lataillade sued Duffy, the company its parent company LVMH in March for creating a hostile work environment by forcing staff members to watch gay porn and even asking a store associate to perform a pole dance for him. A company spokesperson told Women’s Wear Daily that all of Lataillade’s allegations were false and that they would vigorously defend Duffy — and it looks like they’re doing just that. According to their filing, “Lataillade was not subjected to sexual harassment or retaliation, nor did he ever complain of such conduct.”
But Lataillade’s lawyer Anne Vladeck says she has photographic evidence to the contrary. She also points out that the company was audited on several occasions while Lataillade was in charge of its finances, meaning that someone would have noticed sooner than now if there were millions of dollars laying about unaccounted for. So who’s right about whom? We’ll leave that for the court to decide.