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Mitchell Pollack & Associates PLLC

Former bookseller CEO says he was subject to wrongful termination

| Sep 14, 2018 | Employment Law for Employers |

In the current climate, businesses are paying greater attention to how their employees behave. This is true whether it is a small “mom and pop” store or a large, publicly held business. Should an employee be accused of violating employment law with poor behaviors such as sexual harassment, it is inevitable that the person’s job will be in jeopardy contingent on the results of an investigation. If the allegations are shown to be accurate, there will be a dismissal. Many employees will protest this and proclaim wrongful termination. Employers must make sure they are firmly grounded in the law and understand how to formulate a defense against allegations of wrongdoing in dismissing an employee.

A lawsuit has been filed by the former CEO of Barnes & Noble Inc. The man who was dismissed claims that he was subject to false accusations of sexual harassment before his firing. He had been on the job for slightly more than a year. The case was filed in Manhattan and the man says the company breached its contract with him and defamed him. The dismissal was done in early July and he did not receive severance.

The founder of Barnes & Noble – who is the owner of more than 19 percent of the company – is accused of forcing the CEO’s departure when there was a takeover attempt by another entity. The former CEO says he was subject to false accusations of mistreatment of the former CFO, someone who the CEO thought performed his job poorly. The former CFO is now sharing the role of CEO. For its part, Barnes & Noble says that the lawsuit is an attempt to receive money after the CEO was dismissed because of various illegal behaviors including sexual harassment, bullying and other violations. The former CEO wants $4 million in severance and other compensation.

When there is a lawsuit from a disgruntled former employee who the employer says was dismissed for cause, it is imperative that the employer understand its rights to conduct business as it sees fit and deal with internal problems decisively. Often, these employees do not believe they did anything wrong and that the investigation did not yield sufficient evidence to warrant the dismissal. When it is a higher-up in a business, there will likely be major financial implications when there is a firing and it will inevitably spark a lawsuit. Having a law firm that is experienced in employment law for employers can help to craft a defense against these claims.