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B&N Counter-Sues Former CEO Parneros

The latest chapter in the three-month-old soap opera which began with B&N firing CEO Demos Parneros arrived today in the form of a counter-suit.

From Reuters:

Barnes & Noble Inc on Tuesday filed a countersuit seeking damages from the former chief executive officer it fired in part because of claims he sexually harassed a female employee.

The largest U.S. bookstore chain said Demos Parneros breached his duties of loyalty and good faith by sexually harassing the female employee, bullying subordinates, and attempting to "sabotage" a potential sale of the New York-based company.

In its countersuit, Barnes & Noble said Parneros' lawsuit "downplays what occurred," and that the company should recoup his salary, bonus and other benefits during the period of his "disloyal conduct" and cancel his outstanding equity awards.

Barnes & Noble said the female employee reported two incidents in which Parneros allegedly subjected her to unwanted touching or comments of a sexual nature.

It said that in the second incident, Parneros allegedly pulled the employee toward him so their faces touched, and as she tried to pull away he said she seemed like someone who "would put out" if he "wined and dined" her.

Barnes & Noble also said Parneros derailed a takeover that would have cost him the CEO role, after portraying the company as an "ugly mess" that had "no realistic prospects for success" in a June meeting with executives of the potential acquirer.

According to the countersuit, Barnes & Noble has received "additional complaints about Parneros' inappropriate behavior toward women" at the company since his termination. Barnes & Noble declined to elaborate.

Parneros has denied B&N’s allegations.

What an utter mess – exactly what B&N doesn’t need right now.

Whether or not the allegations are true (the situation is so muddled that at this point picking a side  says more about one’s biases than the case) this case is the exact opposite of what B&N needs right now.

B&N needs to portray the image of competence and professionalism so as to allay fears about its downward spiral. Instead, this case makes the senior management look like jackasses. It is putting the question in everyone’s head that if B&N can’t even manage to fire its CEO without causing a scene, can we really trust them to run a company?

That is not the question you should want your creditors asking.

image by jjbers via Flickr

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Disgusting Dude October 31, 2018 um 12:36 am

They claim to want to sell the company and saddle it with a messy and potentially expensive legal soap opera?
Regardless of who "wins" the company might not even last enough for the lawsuits to be fully litigated.

Allen F October 31, 2018 um 2:07 pm

Riggio and pals want it to crash and burn, they think they’ll make more money that way. The rest is as you say a soap opera to help keep B&N in the news …

Liza November 1, 2018 um 6:55 pm

Shelf Awareness posted a pretty detailed account about what is in B&N’s counter suit and, if even some if it is true, I can see why they would fire the man. Geez, what a hot mess.

Nate Hoffelder November 2, 2018 um 9:37 am

Agreed, but why didn’t they do it quietly?

Brian November 2, 2018 um 12:24 pm

I think they haven’t done this quietly to make the company even less attractive for outside buyers. So that Riggio can buy the company back.

Nate Hoffelder November 2, 2018 um 1:45 pm

I do think that this is the most likely possibility, yes.

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