Mike Shearwood, the former CEO of Clarks, has embarked on a legal battle against the company, claiming he was not given a chance to respond to misconduct claims.
Shearwood will allege at an employment tribunal, starting today in Bristol, that he was given a list of allegations at a board meeting last June, just hours before his departure was announced, the Sunday Times reported. Shearwood allegedly spoke to colleagues using racist and sexist language, several media reports indicated.
It comes after Shearwood resigned in June 2018 following an investigation “into complaints of conduct contrary to the family-owned company’s code of business ethics”. Shearwood, who joined the footwear business in September 2016, left with immediate effect.
“We can confirm that Clarks is currently engaged in an employment tribunal involving former CEO, Mike Shearwood”, a Clarks spokeswoman commented. “Clarks rejects all allegations raised by Mr Shearwood and we stand by our decision in relation to Mr Shearwood’s termination. Mr Shearwood resigned from Clarks following an investigation into complaints of conduct contrary to the family-owned company’s Code of Business Ethics. The investigation showed that MS’s conduct fell short of the behaviours expected of all its senior management on several occasions.
“It is Clarks’ firmly held belief that Mr Shearwood is fabricating a frivolous and vexatious narrative surrounding his time at Clarks purely with the intent of eliciting a termination payment from the business. Clarks made it clear at the time of his departure that his behaviour was such as to warrant no compensatory or notice payment. Clarks hopes the Tribunal will agree with us and see Mr Shearwood’s claim for the tactical device it is. This is a calculated attempt to damage the Clarks business and its reputation.”
Stella David, the company’s senior independent director, was named as interim CEO after his resignation, before former Geox chief executive Giorgio Presca was appointed as new Clarks CEO in February.
Before working at Clarks, Shearwood was CEO of Karen Millen from 2009 until 2015.