NEW YORK -- Escada Beaute Ltd., a unit of Escada AG, an apparel manufacturer based in Munich, Germany, has been named in a $3.8 million lawsuit brought by a former official who charged the company with breach of contract, slander and religious discrimination.

In the suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, Lawrence H. Appel, the one-time president of Escada Beaute, claims he was fired on April 1 without cause, less than three weeks after the company offered and then withdraw a "buyout" proposal.

Appel, who is Jewish, also alleges that Escada Beaute's chairman, Wolfgang Ley, who is also named as a defendant, made numerous "derogatory comments" about Jews that has caused Appel to suffer "serious professional, emotional and financial damage." Since his firing, Appel claims Escada failed to pay him for his services, which he estimates at about $770,000.

He is also seeking $1.5 million for slander and $1.5 million for "emotional distress" from the defendant's alleged discrimination.

Christopher H. Smith, general counsel for Escada, said Monday the company had no comment.

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