PROENZA COURT CASE CONTINUES: Proenza Schouler and LVMH have struck back against former Proenza Schouler chief financial officer and chief operating officer Patrice Lataillade, who is seeking damages for unlawful employment discrimination and wrongful termination.
In late August, Lataillade filed a 25-page complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming violations of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lataillade alleged he was axed in retaliation for a lawsuit he filed in 2011 against Marc Jacobs. Lataillade was shown to the door when LVMH was in-the-running to invest in Proenza Schouler, but the deal never materialized.
Lataillade claimed that he “enjoyed great success” helping to increase the company’s presence in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and that “looking to further expand but lacking the cash flow” the company sought new investors in 2014. He alleged that Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH’s fashion group, made clear to Proenza that his continued employment “would be an obstacle to the deal.”
The suit claimed the deal with LVMH was in jeopardy around July 2014 and “sales were declining.” By that fall, Proenza was “desperate for negotiations to resume,” which he claimed they did and subsequently his firing was said to be a precondition for the deal to move forward. These and several other allegations were disputed in Proenza Schouler’s filing Wednesday including that Lataillade’s firing in January 2015 was intended to entice LVMH to finalize the transaction and also to absorb the value of his shares, which were said to be 1.8 percent.
In a court filing Wednesday, attorneys for Proenza Schouler disputed the aforementioned claims among others. A LVMH spokeswoman said Wednesday, “The claims against LVMH lack any merit and LVMH looks forward to a complete vindication in these proceedings.”
In another court filing Wednesday, attorneys for Proenza Schouler’s former ceo Shirley Cook, who also is cited in Lataillade’s complaint from this summer, disputed numerous allegations.
An attorney for Proenza Schouler and Cook declined comment Wednesday. Lataillade’s legal team and executives at Proenza Schouler did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Lataillade’s legal battles with LVMH started after he was fired as cfo and chief operating officer of Marc Jacobs International in September 2010. In a lawsuit filed in March 2011 in a New York state court in Manhattan, he named Marc Jacobs International and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc. as the defendants, claiming he was “subjected to a discriminatory environment offensive to him” and was “fired in retaliation for objecting to that environment.” That legal dispute was settled in January 2012 and terms of the agreement were not revealed.
Lataillade started his LVMH career at Donna Karan in May 1996, before joining Marc Jacobs in November 2002.