The female CEO of Archie Comics accused by five employees of being sexually inappropriate said she can’t possibly be guilty of harassment, since the people lodging complaints against her are all white men.
Nancy Silberkleit’s lawyer argues that a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against her earlier this year by a group of employees should be thrown out because white males aren’t members of “a protected class,” the New York Daily News reported.
The lawyers for the plaintiffs, who include Archie President Mike Pellerito and Editor-in-chief Victor Gorelick, claim Miss Silberkleit used the word “penis” arbitrarily and frequently, often shouting it at business meetings.
“[T]he word ‘penis’ became somewhat of a campaign slogan and her preferred method of referring to employees in lieu of their names,” their filing says, the Daily News reported.
The plaintiffs also claim Miss Silberkleit stalked employees and their families. They seek $32.5 million in damages and a court order keeping her two miles away from the office.
The co-CEO has denied the allegations, saying Archie Comics stands for “very high values that are global values.”
“I do not act the way it’s been reported,” she told the Daily News, adding that the accusations are “extremely damaging” to the company.
Miss Silberkleit took over as co-CEO of Archie Comics after her husband’s death in 2008.
Fellow CEO Jonathan Goldwater filed suit seeking her ouster in 2011 for allegedly being unstable. That case was settled last year with an agreement that Miss Silberkleit would have limited interactions with the employees, the Daily News said.
• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at email@example.com.
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