Ex-CEO of Barnes & Noble Countersued
On Tuesday, Barnes & Noble Inc. filed a lawsuit against a CEO they previously fired based on claims that a female employee was sexually harassed.
Demos Parneros the former CEO of one of the largest bookstore chains in the United States Barnes & Noble Inc. breached his sworn duty of good faith and loyalty by harassing a female employee sexually, attempted sabotage of the sale of the company, and the bullying of subordinates. As revealed in a statement that was released, Parneros denied all claims that have been levied against him. He claimed to have never bullied anyone, referred to the claims of sexual harassment as “entirely false” and also argued that right from the onset, he was supportive of the sale process of the company.
Earlier this year, Parneros in a lawsuit that was filed had accused Leonard Riggio the largest shareholder of the company and the company itself for making up non-existent reasons for firing him just less than two years after he was appointed as CEO. Parneros sought over $4 million for damages.
In the countersuit that was filed by Barnes & Noble Inc., the company claimed that Parneros is trying to downplay the events that led to his sack. The lawsuit further claims that the company should recoup his salary and bonuses during the period of his acclaimed “disloyal act”. The company further stated that his equity awards that were outstanding should be canceled as well.
It was further revealed by the company that the female employee harassed had reported two separate incidents where she was subjected to unwanted sexual comments or touching. Barnes & Noble revealed that according to the employee, the second incident saw Parneros allegedly pulling her (the employee) towards him so that their faces could meet, although she tried to pull back, Parneros said that she looked like one that would “put it out” if he had to dine and wine with her.
Barnes & Noble further revealed that during one of the executive meetings with a potential buyer of the company, that Parneros stopped a takeover that would have most likely cost him his job as the CEO. The company claims that Parneros portrayed the company as one with no “future realistic success prospect” and as an “ugly mess”.
Although they declined to shed more light, Barnes & Noble claimed to have received additional information that Parneros displayed inappropriate behavior towards women. This has especially come to light as the #MeToo movement has made such a social media impact for raising awareness for Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, especially in the workplace.
Currently, the company is carefully considering its limited options, one of them including the sale of the company. In the meantime, they have appointed three persons to share the responsibilities of the CEO until they find an ideal replacement for Parneros. Leonard Riggio still functions as the Executive Chairman of the company.
According to several reports, the share price of the company has fallen drastically since 2015. Although a reason has not been given for the fall in sales, some have argued that the fierce competition from rivals like Amazon.com could be the main reason for the company’s decline in sales.