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Former Marc Jacobs Exec Says Core Issue of Suit Still Not Addressed

Patrice Lataillade defends record as steward of MJI finances in court filing.

NEW YORK — Former Marc Jacobs executive Patrice Lataillade in court papers Wednesday said LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs International still haven’t addressed the core issues of sexual discrimination and retaliation in his lawsuit.

Lataillade, chief financial and operating officer of MJI before being let go in September, in March filed his complaint against MJI president Robert Duffy in a New York state court in Manhattan alleging violations of state and city laws based on charges of sexual discrimination and retaliation.

His lawsuit charged that he was “subjected to a discriminatory environment offensive to him” and that he was “fired in retaliation for objecting to that environment.” Also named in the lawsuit as defendants were MJI and LVMH.

The defendants responded last month denying the hostile work environment allegations, but then added some counterclaims of their own, alleging fraud for financial manipulations and unjust enrichment, among other allegations. They said he was fired because figures he provided to MJI’s board and LVMH were “overstated by several million dollars to give the appearance that budget and bonus targets had been met.”

The defendants also said in their response and counterclaims that “LVMH made bonus payments to Lataillade” that would not have been made had the true financial condition of MJI been known.

In his response Wednesday to the counterclaims, Lataillade essentially denied what were termed “five frivolous counterclaims,” asserting that they “continue defendants’ retaliatory pattern of refusing to correct the discriminatory work environment that MJI president Duffy created.”

Nor did Lataillade buy the timing of the allegations about financial improprieties.

“Not content to fire Lataillade because he objected to a discriminatory environment, defendants have filed baseless counterclaims raising scurrilous charges of improprieties by plaintiff, an executive who was repeatedly promoted and who successfully managed significant financial and operational responsibilities during his 14-year tenure with defendants,” the court papers said.

The papers specifically stated that “more senior executives than plaintiff reviewed and signed the statements prepared by executives other than plaintiff in full consultation with Deloitte & Touche, an outside accounting firm. In addition, the LVMH finance department in Paris monitored virtually daily the MJI financial reports.”

Repeated audits and other examinations of the financial records by inside and outside auditors “failed to unearth the ‘misconduct’ that defendants only now allege,” the document stated.

In their response to the latest court filing, MJI and LVMH reiterated their arguments.

“As we have made clear from the outset, Mr. Lataillade was terminated solely for his very serious financial manipulations and his allegations otherwise are false,” an MJI spokeswoman said. “Those matters are stated in detail in our counterclaim, including that we have ample evidence that Mr. Lataillade manipulated the company’s financial performance for personal gain.

“As cfo, Mr. Lataillade was responsible for the information that was made available to others at MJI and LVMH, and they relied on his statements that it was an accurate and fair view of MJI’s financial status, she continued. “We look forward to demonstrating this and vigorously pursuing our case in court.”