On Thursday, July 26, 2018, Wigdor LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Janine Donen alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and breach of contract against RDG Global, LLC (“RDG Global” or “RDG”) and its Chief Executive Officer, Richard Gossett. RDG Global is a worldwide apparel design and manufacturing company that produces several women’s clothing brands, including Jessica Simpson’s activewear line “The Warm Up.”
The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Gossett fostered a “vile, misogynistic work culture” at RDG Global that stymied women’s careers and emboldened male employees to sexually harass their female coworkers. Ms. Donen, an experienced fashion industry executive who was RDG’s Global Director of Sales and Merchandising, alleges that the firm exploited her extensive connections to secure lucrative business relationships with well-known retailers such as J.Crew, and then discriminatorily reduced her involvement in the very deals that she helped establish because of her gender.
Ms. Donen further alleges that Mr. Gossett sexually harassed and discriminated against her in ways that made it impossible for her to do her job. For example, Mr. Gossett would often proclaim that he preferred business be handled “man to man” and exclude Ms. Donen from critical meetings as a result, would inappropriately touch Ms. Donen face, hands, shoulders and hug and kiss her without her consent, and repeatedly attempted to pressure female subordinates to pull down their pants so that he could inject their buttocks with a syringe purportedly filled with vitamins, according to the lawsuit.
Shockingly, after RDG Global was accused of failing to comply with regulatory standards by J.Crew, Mr. Gossett lied to J.Crew executives and blamed Ms. Donen for this failure, and then used this as pretext to terminate her in retaliation for her complaints of gender discrimination, according to the Complaint.
The lawsuit also alleges that RDG further retaliated against Ms. Donen by failing to pay her commissions she was owed because she refused to sign a release of her claims after she was terminated.
#MeToo hits the fashion world — sex discrimination lawsuit filed by @WigdorLaw exposes "misogynistic work culture" at worldwide fashion design & manufacturing firm RDG Global, which produces women's clothing brands like @JessicaSimpson's The Warm Up.
— Wigdor Law (@WigdorLaw) July 27, 2018
Statement from Jeanne M. Christensen and Tanvir H. Rahman:
“No female employee should be forced to work in an environment where male leaders operate above the law and subject women to a vile, misogynistic culture. As alleged, Janine Donen, the successful and hard-working former Global Director of Sales and Merchandising at apparel designer and manufacturer RDG Global LLC, was relegated to second-class citizen status and forced to endure unwanted physical touching, sexually explicit comments and a culture that stifled her ability to perform merely because she was a woman working in a male-dominated environment. #MeToo is just getting started and the fashion industry at every level will not be spared.”