Following the firing of Barnes & Noble chief executive Demos Parneros, companies have struggled with the best procedures to publicly announce an executive’s termination, especially those accused of sexual harassment and misconduct. Joseph Greenwald & Laake principal Jay Holland spoke to Erin Mulvaney at the New York Law Journal regarding these best practices, and how companies can minimize future bad conduct and properly handle complaints.
Barnes & Noble announced over the summer that Parneros was terminated for “violations of company’s policies.” The company only confirmed that he was not fired due to disagreements or fraud regarding financial reporting, policies or practices, which caused many to note that his termination had occurred during the national #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. However, Parneros sued Barnes & Noble for alleged wrongful termination, defamation and breach of contract.
The news story used an interview in which Holland discussed companies clarifying personnel decisions. Holland said that historically, companies have not publicized reasons for employees or executives leaving their companies.
“Culturally, companies want HR practices to stay within the company,” Holland said. “Legally, they don’t want to be sued by former employees that they were defamed.”
Holland also said that the reason the vast majority of individuals leave their work is due to a host of reasons and has nothing to do with harassment.
“It’s not necessarily fair to the employer or employee for speculation to be out there, if it’s true or not,” Holland said.
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Jay Holland is a principal in JGL’s Civil Litigation Group, and the chair of the firm’s Labor, Employment and Qui Tam Whistleblower practice. He is a renowned employment and qui tam litigator known for taking on tough cases and achieving exceptional results.