Fashion designer Elie Tahari has been slapped with a $12 million lawsuit by a 32-year-old employee who claims that he sexually harassed her.
Marcy Castelgrande, 32, began working for the designer in 2006 as a product coordinator. She alleges that the incident occurred on December 2, 2011 when the 52-year-old groped her and attempted to lift her skirt, according to Page Six.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, states: ‘Tahari’s recently divorced CEO, Mr. Tahari, unlawfully and inappropriately touched Ms. Castelgrande in the area of her private parts while she was modeling a skirt before a public crowd of at least ten people.’
Ms. Castelgrande claims that she she immediately told him to stop and placed her hands on his legs ‘to avoid exposure of her private genitalia.’
She then claims that Mr. Tahari said to the group in the room, ‘She needs to leave. I can’t work with her.
‘She is too sensitive. I’ve had lawsuits in the past and cannot deal with another one.’
Ms. Castelgrande indicates that the work environment became ‘sexually charged’ in her final three months of employment, and that Mr. Tahari’s actions created a hostile work environment.
She further states that she reported the incident to HR the day after the incident, and was fired two hours later.
In the lawsuit Ms. Castelgrande requests an amount ‘an award of compensatory damages not less than $6 million dollars’ as well as an additional $6 million in punitive damages.
Mr. Tahari, who specializes in tailored and upscale clothing, opened his first boutique on Madison Avenue in 1974.
Since then he has opened a flagship store in Soho, New York as well as boutiques in East Hampton, Boston, Boca Raton, Las Vegas, Aurora, Atlanta, Bal Harbour and Dallas.
The lawsuit states that the company makes more than $500 million per year in sales.
So far the designer has not responded to comments from media outlets. The New York Daily news spoke with Mr. Tahari’s lawyer, Ran Daniel, who only said, ‘We don’t discuss any litigation.’
New York magazine reports that a representative for Mr. Tahari provided the following statement: ‘Elie Tahari Ltd. and Elie Tahari both deny the allegations contained in the judicial complaint filed by Marcy Castelgrande and are prepared to vigorously defend the matter.
‘Since this a pending legal matter, we do not have any further comment at this time.’