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Mole in the menswear aisle? Retailer sues former employee

Mike Platania March 15, 2017 0

Alton Lane moved its headquarters from New York to Richmond in 2015. (BizSense file photo)

Alton Lane moved its headquarters from New York to Richmond in 2015. (BizSense file photo)

A high-end Richmond men’s clothing brand has sued a former worker, claiming she stole confidential information and tried selling it to competitors.

Alton Lane, a retailer that specializes in custom suits for men, filed a lawsuit March 1 in Richmond Federal Court against former employee Danielle Sliva, also alleging she concurrently worked for a competing brand, J. Hilburn, while she was employed at Alton Lane.

“Alton Lane became aware that not only was Ms. Sliva then working for another custom menswear provider that competes directly with Alton Lane, J. Hilburn, but that Ms. Sliva had never stopped working for Alton Lane’s competitor, and only obtained employment with Alton Lane to steal its customer lists and other proprietary and confidential information,” the suit states.

Sliva, according to the lawsuit, was hired by Alton Lane last June to work in its Chicago showroom. In December, the company fired Sliva because her “behavior did not conform to Alton Lane’s standards,” the suit contends.

Then last month, Alton Lane was tipped off by an email from an individual who claimed Sliva attempted to sell him the company documents, including information on clients and financials.

The email claimed Sliva showed that person files she’d downloaded from an internal Alton Lane Dropbox, and that she was attempting to sell that information to competitors in Chicago and Florida, where Alton Lane has showrooms. The company has 12 retail locations around the country, in addition to its headquarters in Scott’s Addition.

Alton Lane's showroom at 304 Libbie Ave.

Alton Lane’s showroom at 304 Libbie Ave.

Alton Lane seeks $75,000 in damages from Sliva, who was not present at a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning at the Richmond Federal Courthouse. She also had no attorney present, nor is one listed in court records.

Alton Lane claims 10 counts of violations, including misappropriation of trade secrets, unjust enrichment, theft, breach of an employment agreement, and violations of computer crimes and privacy laws.

Sliva is listed as a personal stylist and style associate on J. Hilburn’s website.

J. Hilburn did not respond to requests to confirm whether Sliva still works at the company.

Alton Lane is represented by attorneys Andrew Mathews, D. Earl Baggett and Amanda Weaver of Williams Mullen. Mathews and Alton Lane co-founder Peyton Jenkins were present at the hearing.

At Tuesday’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney issued a 10-day temporary restraining order, preventing Sliva from further sharing Alton Lane’s information.

A second hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday, March 23.

Alton Lane was founded in 2009 and opened a shop in the Near West End in 2014.

A year later it relocated its headquarters from New York to Richmond, and closed 2015 with a $7.5 million capital raise.

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