Oregon officials believe a $90 million settlement with Victoria’s Secret’s parent company is guaranteed to end its culture of harassment and fear
Salem, Ore. – Oregon officials believe a $90 million deal with Victoria’s Secret’s parent company is guaranteed to end its “culture of harassment and fear.”
Under the agreement, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, owned by L Brands Inc., each committed to invest $45 million over at least five years to protect employees from harassment and discrimination and if misconduct occurs. Accountability is required from officials, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Treasurer Tobias Reid said in a statement sent by email Monday.
It also exempts former employees from non-disclosure agreements, allowing them to speak publicly about their experiences.
The settlement is on behalf of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund and other shareholders, who alleged that L Brands’ board of directors failed to investigate former CEO and Chairman Emeritus Leslie Wexner’s close personal relationship with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and sexual harassment. Ignored the widespread culture of oppression. At the company, two Oregon officials said.
According to a New York Times article published in February 2020, Wexner and his former chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, presided over a deep culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment at Victoria’s Secret, an underwear and lingerie company.
“By allowing a pattern of sexual misconduct, bullying and retaliation, L Brands’ board of directors failed to act in the best interest of shareholders,” Rosenblum said. “The days of quietly fostering a culture of harassment and fear are over. In Victoria’s Secret and other L. Brands companies.”
L Brands said in a statement last Friday that it has agreed measures for corporate governance and management, including a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, to strengthen policies and procedures for reporting and investigating sexual harassment complaints, and a Involves hiring a consultant. The company has acknowledged no wrongdoing in its statement.
The settlement came when Victoria’s Secret spun off from L Brands to become its own public company.
L Brand’s board chair, Sarah Nash, said the settlement marks the full and final resolution of stockholders’ workplace misconduct claims.
“This global resolution, coupled with our commitment to industry-leading governance policies, is a highly positive outcome for the company and its shareholders,” Nash said. “It steers both Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret to success as independent public companies with strong management teams and boards of directors committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Oregon officials said the settlement resolves allegations from the state of Oregon and the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, as well as a lawsuit filed by Milton Rudy, another shareholder, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
L Brands said the settlement had to be filed in that court and is subject to court approval.