Barnes & Noble has disclosed new details on its firing of CEO Demos Parneros in July after 16 months on the job.
The nationwide bookseller (and home entertainment retailer) in an Oct. 30 legal filing (Parneros v Barnes & Noble, 18-cv-7834, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York), outlined further details of alleged sexual harassment by Parneros against a female employee, in addition to breach of fiduciary duty after allegedly scuttling a possible sale of the fiscally-challenged company.
Parneros, who maintains his innocence, sued Barnes & Noble in August for wrongful termination and payment of severance, claiming he was abruptly dismissed by the chain’s founder Leonard Riggio for no reason.
Barnes & Noble, in the filing, claims Parneros acted inappropriately with the female staffer he had called into his office, including pinching her neck after comparing heights.
“She also reported that just a few days after this incident, Parneros again called her into his office, inappropriately showed her pictures of what he considered to be romantic Quebec City hotels, told her that he ‘would have taken’ her to those hotels if he were her husband, pulled her towards him so that their faces touched cheek-to-cheek and, as she attempted to pull away, angrily told her that he thought she seemed like someone who ‘would put out’ if he ‘wined and dined’ her,” according to the complaint.
Barnes & Noble says it has received additional complaints about Perneros from other female employees.
In addition, the company alleged the former CEO made repeated negative comments about Barnes & Noble to an unnamed potential buyer, including questioning “Why did I come here?” to the buyer’s representative.
“These false allegations are nothing more than an effort to tarnish my reputation and punish me for seeking justice,” Parneros said in an email statement to Bloomberg.
Barnes & Noble in September reported a first-quarter (ended July 28) net loss of $17 million, up 70% from a net loss of $10.7 million during the previous-year period. Revenue dropped 7% to $794 million from $853 million last year.
The bookseller’s Nook business, which includes digital media such as TV shows and movies, narrowed its operating loss to $330,000 from an operating loss of $2.7 million last year. Revenue dropped 14% to $25.2 million from $29.5 million last year.