Details on how the behavior of former Stuart Weitzman creative director Giovanni Morelli “fell short” became available following the filing of a lawsuit Tuesday by Thomas Gibb.
Gibb’s lawsuit alleges sexual harassment by Morelli. Gibb, vice president of product development footwear for Stuart Weitzman since March 1, was previously vice president of footwear operations for the Coach brand. He filed his lawsuit in a Manhattan state court naming Tapestry Inc., the owner of the Stuart Weitzman brand, and Morelli as codefendants.
A week ago, or one year after he landed the role of creative director, Morelli resigned his post. Tapestry chief executive officer Victor Luis said of his departure, “While we greatly admire Giovanni’s creative talents, Tapestry is committed to an environment where every individual feels respected, and at times his behavior fell short of these standards.”
A spokeswoman for Tapestry declined comment on the pending litigation, noting that Gibb’s lawyers reached out to the Tapestry’s general counsel on May 15, and that the company “commenced an investigation which ultimately resulted in the announcement on May 21, 2018, regarding the resignation of Giovanni Morelli.” Morelli could not be reached for comment.
In the court document, Gibb alleged that Morelli “subjected him to a constant barrage of sexual harassment.” That harassment included “sexually charged conversation and innuendo into the workplace, making those around him, including Mr. Gibb, extremely uncomfortable.” Gibb also alleged that during a trip to Spain to meet with the brand’s design team, Morelli constantly touched Gibb’s body and the back of his legs, and even asked whether Gibb would “ever consider not being straight?” The court document said that Morelli’s touching was “unwelcome, offensive and inappropriate.”
The lawsuit further detailed other offensive behavior on several trips to Spain to meet with the design team, as well as Morelli’s reference to Gibb via the nickname Tommy Straight and Morelli’s alleged “vulgar and obscene drawings” on the whiteboard in his office that included the Tommy Straight nickname.
The court document also said that because Morelli was the “face” of the brand, Tapestry “effectively allowed Mr. Morelli to operate outside the normal confines of acceptable conduct and made seemingly endless excuses and exceptions for him.” Gibb said he complained on multiple occasions to Stuart Weitzman’s human resources department, but that his “complaints were ignored entirely.”
Gibb also said in the lawsuit that the conduct described is representative of the “hostile work environment” in which he was forced to work, that the company permitted to exist, and is “not intended to be an exhaustive account of Mr. Morelli’s offensive and discriminatory behavior.”
Gibb is seeking an unspecified amount for damages, an award of punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief to remedy the alleged unlawful conduct, and other relief that the court deems “just and proper.”