So I got named in a pending lawsuit …
That time we fired CEO Josh Melick for sexual assault, fired head of HR (Amanda Duisman) for cover up, and it didn't end there …
So I got named in a pending lawsuit. That wasn’t on my bucket list yet here we are.
I don't expect much to come out of this. My take is that it's a legal maneuver to extract a settlement from the company I worked for. Squeaky wheel looking for some free grease.
But since there's a public record, I do need to make a public response. Please excuse me while I take a quick break from talking tech to deal with some personal drama.
Warning: It Starts with Sexual Assault
First, some background for people who weren't close by to watch this unfold. I'll keep it brief.
2013: Started a company to help small businesses grow and get more customers. Great idea turned into a thriving business.
2019: Discovered that my co-founder and (former) CEO of Broadly, Josh Melick, sexually assaulted a woman.
Rest of 2019: Actions have consequences. Josh forced to resign. Challenging times for everyone, but the company survives.
There's more to this story, of course. You can imagine what happens when the CEO gets caught red-handed.
Lawyers on all sides. Witnesses, discovery, and piles of documents. Denials. Anxiety. Rage.
That's a story for another time. And I'm still waiting for the ending, there's more fallout, and people cleaning up the mess left behind.
Abusers And Their Enablers
There's a second part to this story.
2019: While investigating Josh, we discovered that the head of HR knew about the harassment reports, and covered up for Josh.
That head of HR, Amanda Duisman, also left the company.
2020: No good deed goes unpunished, and Amanda decides to sue the company for “wrongful termination.”
Can you believe that? And yet, there are people who think nothing of putting others in harm's way. They take no responsibility for their actions. They lie to protect their asses, play the victim, and try to profit from the situation.
It doesn't matter that the lawsuit has no legs to stand on. Right or wrong, companies often pay out settlements to resolve legal matters. And grifters with no shame will exploit that.
Amanda's bogus claim is about “age-based discrimination”. I'll say this, ageism is widespread in tech, morally and ethically wrong, and we need to fix that.
But so is sexual harassment. And a VP who covers up for sexual assault should have no place in our industry.
Why Amanda Duisman Lost Her Job
I'll give you the condensed version. I'm only going to respond to four claims from the case:
- Amanda Duisman was fired for gross misconduct. We concluded that Amanda covered up for sexual harassment. (Her age was not a factor.)
- Amanda Duisman was fired by consensus of the board and the new CEO. (No one person was “out to get her.”)
- Amanda Duisman showed bad judgment. That weighed against Amanda's recommendation we hire her friend. (Again, age was not a factor.)
- Amanda Duisman's negligence and incompetence left other skeletons in the closet. There was no way these people could stay at the company. (Actions have consequences.)
In closing: if you sexually assault an employee or cover up for sexual assault, you are not welcome in my place of business. Go away and never come back.
Let me answer some questions you might be asking right now.
“You say Amanda was fired for gross misconduct. What case does she have?”
You're an honest person. You can't imagine someone would act out of gross negligence, then demand a payout. You and I both.
But you need to understand some people don't operate that way. Toxic people have a different playbook. They care not about others, but only to enrich themselves.
And companies are not in the business of taking a moral stance. They view lawsuits as transactional and settlements are more efficient transactions.
And because these settlements are under NDA, you can't spot the grifter when you run a background/reference check.
Some people learned to exploit this system and use the threat of lawsuit to extract money from their employers.
“So there’s no lawsuit?”
There's an intent to sue, that's the first step.
But there may never be a lawsuit. Courts do believe companies have every right to fire employees if they cover up for sexual harassment.
This case is not made for the court. The goal is a nuisance-value settlement. The company will pay Amanda some cash to walk away, and wrap it up with an NDA.
“So why bother defending this claim?”
That intent to sue is a public record. It's out there. It will come up when you search for it. That warrants a response.
It's a one-sided story, since there was no option to respond. It hides Amanda's history of misconduct and incompetence. It's written to create the impression Amanda was “fired without cause.”
It only mentions one person by name: me. Several times over. In caps. If you read it, unaware of the facts, it paints a target on my back.
So I'm responding by telling you what I saw, and what actions I took to protect the company and its employees.
“Isn’t Josh the bigger asshole here?”
But that’s a story for another time.
Right now I'm hoping to address the public record that's messing with my reputation.