- CVS has fired an unspecified number of employees, including a field manager, over the handling of sexual harassment complaints, according to a company statement emailed to Retail Dive.
- The firings followed an internal investigation conducted by an independent firm that was prompted by an anonymous complaint late last year. The company said that it "terminated the individual and others have since been exited from the company for failing to treat allegations with the seriousness we expect."
- Since learning of the allegations, CVS has created the Office of Workplace Assistance, overseen by CEO Karen Lynch, to "help ensure colleague concerns are handled confidentially and with the utmost importance."
The #MeToo movement has turned up the scrutiny on corporate managers and how they approach sexual harassment claims. Cultural shifts and social media have raised the costs for not taking complaints seriously and acting accordingly.
In a paper last year, attorneys Ellen Holloman and Hyungjoo Han with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft wrote that the movement has led to increasing investigations into sexual harassment allegations, adding anti-harassment policies to corporate codes, creating new procedures for addressing allegations, and strengthening anti-harassment training.
During the #MeToo era, there have been several high-profile firings and departures in the retail world. Les Wexner, who led the company that became L Brands for decades, came under fire for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the infamous financier and sex offender who faced sex trafficking charges before dying by suicide. Wexner would go on to exit L Brands ahead of its separation into two companies.
More recently, Guess co-founder Paul Marciano has come under renewed fire over accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Marciano has become the target of activist investor Legion Partners, which is demanding the removal of Marciano over what the firm alleges is "a pattern of appalling sexual assault and harassment allegations." The company has said it has "strongly refuted these claims" against Marciano and is "contesting them vigorously."
At CVS, according to a company-wide memo obtained by CNBC, which first reported on the firings, Lynch said that the company will "not tolerate inaction from leaders who are responsible for escalating concerns or allegations raised by our colleagues."