Tapestry Sues Giovanni Morelli’s Sexual Harassment Accuser for Breach of Contract

UPDATE: Thomas Gibb’s Attorney Responds to Tapestry Lawsuit (June 18 at 6 p.m. ET)

Attorney David Gottlieb of Wigdor LLP, who represents Thomas Gibb, told FN that his client was fired from his role at Stuart Weitzman today in conjunction with Tapestry’s court filing.

“This is among the most egregious examples of retaliation our law firm has ever seen,” he said of Tapestry’s suit against Gibb for alleged breach of contract. “Thomas Gibb had been working for Tapestry for 18 months and had always been completely candid about his ownership interest in Tidal. This had never been a problem until Gibb sued Tapestry for sexual harassment and discrimination only two weeks ago. This is nothing other than a tactic to scare Gibb and make him feel vulnerable, which is a horrible way to treat someone who had the courage to raise a complaint of discrimination and harassment.”

Gottlieb said his firm plans to file a motion to dismiss Tapestry’s case and will amend its May harassment suit to include additional claims and allegations of retaliation.

What We Reported Earlier  (June 18 at 5:19 p.m. ET)

Tapestry Inc. today filed suit against Thomas Gibb, VP of product development and production of footwear at Stuart Weitzman, for alleged breach of contract and unfair competition, among other claims.

“Recently, we learned of Thomas Gibb’s ongoing leadership of a separate footwear company, Tidal New York,” Tapestry — the parent of Stuart Weitzman, Kate Spade and Coach — said in a statement. “The extent of Mr. Gibb’s involvement had been unknown to us, and following this revelation, we commenced an investigation into Mr. Gibb’s involvement with the company.  The investigation plainly revealed a series of violations of our company policies.  We are compelled to take these actions today as a result of our findings.”

The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court today, comes weeks after Gibb sued Tapestry and Stuart Weitzman’s creative director, Giovanni Morelli, for alleged sexual harassment.

In the May complaint, Gibb — whose shoe industry career includes stints at Nine West and Marc Fisher Footwear before joining Stuart Weitzman in March — said he endured numerous “unwanted touchings” and an “endless” stream of sexually explicit comments from Morelli. Those allegations came just days after Stuart Weitzman announced that Morelli  resigned from his post after his behavior had purportedly fallen short of company standards.

In its own filing today, Tapestry alleged that Gibb had been deceptive during the time he worked for the company.

Specifically, Tapestry said — although it was aware of Gibb’s association with Tidal — he had maintained that his involvement was “‘passive’ and limited to a small investment interest.”

Tidal New York’s made-in-America flip-flop with tropical illustrations
Tidal New York’s made-in-America flip-flop with tropical illustrations
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

“On May 28, 2018, The New York Times published an online article promoting Tidal that identified Gibb as one of Tidal’s ‘co-founders,’” the company stated in the complaint, implying the article helped cement the extent of his involvement with the brand. “Gibb’s conduct, including his failure to truthfully disclose his interests and continuing involvement in Tidal’s operations to Tapestry, were in breach of his employment agreement with Tapestry, Tapestry’s Code of Conduct and a violation of his duty of loyalty and fiduciary obligations to Tapestry.”

During his tenure at Tapestry, Gibb served as VP of footwear operations for Coach from March 2017 through February 2018. He moved on the the Stuart Weitzman team in March 2018 after he “had difficulty working with the design team at Coach,” Tapestry said in its suit.

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