And another one bites the dust. Four months after accusations of sexual harassment against the Guess co-founder emerged, Paul Marciano has resigned.
In the wake of the #MeToo reckoning which began with the fall of Harvey Weinstein in October, model Kate Upton took to social media earlier this year expressing disappointment the Guess Inc. brand was “empowering” the exec, despite his rumoured behaviour.
She detailed the harassment in a sit-down with Time magazine that same month, which included groping, kissing, and sending inappropriate messages.
And it seems the past has finally caught up to Marciano, after a company-ordered investigation concluded wrongdoing had indeed taken place. The co-founder vigorously denied the claims, but a recent company filing revealed he’ll be stepping down as executive chairman of the company board, effective immediately. His brother and fellow co-founder Maurice Marciano is set to take over the role.
According to the filing, the investigation concluded, “that on certain occasions Marciano exercised poor judgment in his communications with models and photographers and in placing himself in situations in which plausible allegations of improper conduct could, and did, arise.” BBC News also reported that more than 40 people were interviewed as part of the process, along with review of over 1 million pages of documents. And it sounds like they may have unearthed even more info, had they been able to dig a little deeper. As stated in the filing, “Many of the allegations could not be corroborated. In some cases, no conclusion could be reached because the individuals either declined to be interviewed or provided insufficient information to the investigators. In other cases, the investigation found that credible accounts were given by both sides.”
Marciano will keep his 17% company share, and though he forewent a salary during the investigation, he’ll continue on as board member and chief creative officer until his contract ends in January 2019, for which he will be paid in full. Hmm. You’d think the company would take a tougher stance, considering they also settled lawsuits from five accusers to the tune of $500,000 USD. It risks making his resignation as chairman appear hollow, rather than a serious reprimand for his behaviour.
Among those, four were represented by noted sexual harassment attorney Lisa Bloom, who expressed disappointment at the decision to maintain ties with the disgraced exec, saying “We do not believe a man with so many credible accusations of sexual assault is fit to lead any company, much less one that sells primarily to women.”
The development comes hot on the heels of news of another company chief. John Lasseter at Pixar recently announced he’d be leaving Disney by year’s end, following accusations of untoward behaviour. After a voluntary six-month leave of absence, he was expected to return, but instead will be making his leave a permanent arrangement to focus on “new creative challenges.” Whatever you say, John.
It’s not perfect, but all in all, we’ll call such developments sure-fire victories in the fight against harassment.