QUINN EMANUEL ANNOUNCES NOTICE OF
SETTLEMENT WITH VICTORIA’S SECRET PARENT
Settlement resolves shareholder lawsuit regarding sexual harassment, misogynistic corporate culture, and hostile work environment at Victoria’s Secret
NEW YORK – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP announced today the resolution, subject to court approval, of its shareholder books-and-records action against L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret. The complaint in that action alleged that a “culture of sexual harassment and misogyny” had “plagued the company and Victoria's Secret for decades.”
Just days after the New York Times published an in-depth exposé that revealed the pervasive toxic culture at L Brands, Quinn served a books and records demand on the Company to investigate any wrongdoing. Several other shareholders, including the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund and the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, made similar books and records demands. In June 2020, Quinn commenced a books and records action against the Company in Delaware Chancery Court on behalf of shareholder John Giarratano based on the Company’s failure to produce documents. Two other shareholders also filed derivative stockholder actions making similar allegations, one in Ohio and one in Delaware. Today’s Notice of Settlement was filed with Judge Michael H. Watson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and, if approved, would resolve all stockholder derivative claims alleging workplace misconduct at the company, including claims made in derivative stockholder litigations pending in Ohio and Delaware and in stockholder demands sent to the Board of Directors (the “Board”) since February 2020.
“For too long, the women who worked at or for L Brands and Victoria’s Secret had to endure a toxic work environment and a culture of harassment and intimidation condoned from the very top,” said Manisha M. Sheth, Co-Chair of Quinn Emanuel’s Sexual Harassment & Employment Discrimination Practice Group. The management and corporate governance measures agreed to as part of the settlement will create a safe, inclusive, and empowering environment for women.” Not only has the Company agreed to completely revamp the existing policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment, retaliation, and reporting, but it has agreed to take a number of steps to ensure that those policies are actually working, including through an annual audit and surveys of employees and models. Moreover, the Company has committed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and use data metrics to ensure that those goals are being met.
The settlement – subject to approval by Judge Watson – provides that L Brands will commit to a $90 million fund to implement significant corporate reforms, including the (i) maintenance of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”) Council; (ii) the revamping of policies and procedures on sexual harassment, anti-retaliation, and reporting and investigating sexual harassment complaints; (iii) the hiring of a DEI consultant; (iv) the elimination of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and an agreement not to enforce past NDAs; and (v) increased training and oversight of outside contractors, including photographers.
The settlement expressly recognizes that plaintiffs’ efforts “substantially and materially contributed” to the corporate governance reforms and changes made at L Brands since February 2020. In addition to Sheth, the Quinn Emanuel legal team included Kathryn Bonacorsi and Anais Berland. The law firms Bernstein Liebhard LLP, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, deLeeuw Law LLC, Greenfield & Goodman, LLC, Smith Katzenstein & Jenkins LLP, and Scott & Scott collaborated to achieve this unprecedented settlement.
Quinn Emanuel launched its Sexual Harassment and Employment Discrimination practice group in 2019, with Sheth as Co-Chair. It is the only AmLaw 100 firm in the country to have a plaintiff’s-side practice for such cases. Since then, the group has successfully represented a number of plaintiffs in sexual harassment and related lawsuits and obtained several confidential settlements for clients.
Quinn Emanuel is a 875+ lawyer business litigation firm—the largest in the world devoted solely to business litigation and arbitration with 27 global office locations. Surveys of major companies around the world have twice named it the “most feared” law firm in the world. Firm lawyers have tried over 2,500 cases, winning 86% of them. When representing defendants, Quinn Emanuel’s trial experience gets better settlements or defense verdicts. When representing plaintiffs, Quinn Emanuel lawyers have won over $70 billion in judgments and settlements. Quinn Emanuel has also obtained seven 9-figure jury verdicts, four 10-figure jury verdicts, fifty-one 9-figure settlements, and nineteen 10-figure settlements. The American Lawyer named Quinn Emanuel the top IP litigation firm in the U.S. and the firm as one of the top six commercial litigation firms in the country. The UK legal periodical, The Lawyer named us “International Firm of the Year.” Law360 selected us as Antitrust, Appellate, Banking, Class Action, Insurance, Product Liability, IP, White Collar, and Trials “Practice Groups of the Year.” Managing IP twice recognized us as having the “Best ITC Litigation Practice” and honored us with the “Patent Contentious West” award. Legal Business has named us “US Law Firm of the Year” three times, and our German offices have been named both IP Litigation and Patent Litigation Firm of the Year by JUVE, Germany’s most prestigious legal publication. Global Investigations Review, a leading legal periodical covering global white collar investigations, named us the “Most Impressive Investigations Practice of the Year.” Global Arbitration Review named us the 7th best arbitration practice in the world. Further information is available at www.quinnemanuel.com.