Law firm O’Melveny & Myers has stepped aside from handling the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Guess cofounder Paul Marciano.
Guess Inc. confirmed in a regulatory filing Monday the investigation continues and will be handled by the law firm Glaser Weil LLP alone. Glaser Weil was originally appointed last month to serve as legal counsel to a special committee formed to oversee the inquiry into the claims. Guess at the time said the actual investigation would be handled by O’Melveny & Myers LLP.
A Guess spokeswoman declined comment. O’Melveny & Myers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Marciano, who is on unpaid leave from the company until the investigation is completed, has firmly denied the accusations by model Kate Upton since they first bubbled to the surface in late January.
Upton publicly criticized Guess for the law firm conducting the investigation, saying she refused to participate because Marciano’s personal lawyer was heading it up.
The model in January initially took to social media, hinting at possible misconduct by Marciano. She spoke to Time magazine last month providing a more detailed account of an incident at a photo shoot in 2010 in which she alleged Marciano grabbed her breasts and engaged in other inappropriate behavior throughout the rest of the day.
Upton also recounted to Time an incident in 2012 in which she was offered $400,000 for a campaign, but hinted at what she called “an internal struggle over this offer.” Upton alleged Marciano texted her as the shoot date approached and told her at one point her boyfriend would not be allowed on set, so she told Time she canceled the shoot a week before it happened.
On Friday, a report in the Daily Mail cited e-mails between a Guess advertising executive and Upton’s modeling representative at the time that confirmed an internal disagreement, but showed it was Marciano who ultimately canceled the shoot. The May 2012 e-mails cited in the report showed pushback from Upton’s manager about the model wearing only lingerie and swimwear. The manager instead requested Upton be able to wear cover-ups, such as shorts or a cardigan. Marciano, according to the report, eventually became involved in the e-mail conversation to ultimately say the company would not move forward with the shoot.
The publicity has not been kind to Guess stock. Shares have tumbled about 19 percent since Jan. 31 when Upton first went public with her allegations on social media. The company, which had a recent market value of $1.22 billion, is set to report its fourth-quarter results next week.