Demos Parneros Files Wrongful Termination Suit Against B&N

Demos Parneros Files Wrongful Termination Suit Against B&N Barnes & Noble Lawsuit

The publishing industry had more questions than answers when Barnes & Noble abruptly fired its CEO last month. Demos Parneros was terminated with no notice or severance package, leaving everyone burning with speculation about what was really going on.

Parneros's new lawsuit against B&N will only add fuel to the fire.

From Reuters:

 A former chief executive of Barnes & Noble Inc filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the bookseller of breach of contract and defamation in connection with his sudden termination last month after a little over a year in the job.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Demos Parneros accused Barnes & Noble founder Leonard Riggio of engineering his "firing without cause" and damaging his reputation, in an effort to maintain control of the company.

I haven't found the ruling yet, but I do know that Bloomberg says the complaint claims Parneros was falsely accused of having “engaged in serious sexual misconduct.”

Parneros claims this was a frame job. "Parneros had not violated company policies and always conducted himself in a professional manner,” according to the complaint, which also includes a breach-of-contract claim. “Given Riggio’s erratic and unprofessional behavior, the false allegations of cause to fire Parneros rang especially hollow."

Update: I've got a copy of the ruling (PDF), courtesy of The Passive Voice. It is chock full of juicy allegations, including:

  • There was a deal to sell B&N in June to another book retailer (Books-a-Million, Indigo, ?).  When the deal fell through after the buyer did its due diligence, Parneros unfairly got blamed.
  • The misconduct allegations referred to incidents involving an executive assistant, and Allen Lindstrom.

Update: B&N's statement denies everything, and says Parneros was fired for " sexual harassment, bullying behavior and other violations of company policies after being in the role for approximately one year".

At this point all we have is "he said she said" allegations, and we don't really know what actually happened. That said, I think the truth of this case can be seen in whether there was an investigation into Parneros's misconduct. If there was a real investigation, then the allegations are probably true and the company used the investigation for legal cover.

But if there is no investigation then there's a good chance that the charges were trumped up in order to fire Parneros.

We'll just have to wait and see which it is.

Thanks, Dave!

image  by jjbers via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

7 Comments

  1. Disgusting Dude29 August, 2018

    The NYT is reporting that B&N claims they were the ones who rejected the retailer buyout offer.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 August, 2018

      yeah, right

      Reply
  2. RL29 August, 2018

    There are many competent CEOs out there. They should just get someone and stick with them for a while.

    Reply
    1. Disgusting Dude30 August, 2018

      You assume that a competent CEO would be willing to jump into that cesspool. The lawsuit/reply present a pretty sick picture of B&N corporate culture.

      Reply
  3. Smart Debut Author29 August, 2018

    “We’ll just have to wait and see which it is.”

    Dude. It’s obviously both.

    Riggio’s clearly a lowlife dirtbag who had no issues whatsoever with another lowlife exec legit creeping on a female employee, until Riggio was mad over a lost company buyout opportunity and wanted an excuse to avoid paying that exec severance.

    Or maybe I’m just annoyed at the whole thing, because the stupid lawsuit quotes me personally. Twice.

    Sometimes publishing is just too small a pond.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder29 August, 2018

      Hey, at least you got quoted. I don’t think I got a mention at all.

      Reply
      1. Smart Debut Author29 August, 2018

        In this particular case, that’s a blessing to be grateful for.

        Reply

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