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10/31/2018

Barnes & Noble reveals details on why it fired CEO

Barnes & Noble has taken the gloves off on its battle with former chief executive Demos Parneros.

In July, the nation’s largest bookstore chain fired Parneros for “ violations of the company’s policies,” and said he would not receive any severance pay. The retailer offered no other details except to note that the termination was not related to the company’s financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud.

In August, Parneros fired back with a lawsuit seeking $4 million of severance plus other damages in which he accused Barnes & Noble founder and chairman Leonard Riggio for engineering his “firing without cause” and for “falsely and irrevocably’ damaging his reputation.

The newest chapter to the saga is a countersuit filed by Barnes & Noble in which it detailed the reasons it terminated Parneros, including reports of sexual harassment and an allegation that he sabotaged an acquisition of the company. The retailer said a female employee reported two incidents in which Parneros allegedly subjected her to unwanted touching or comments of a sexual nature.

In other details, Barnes & Noble said Parneros derailed an acquisition of the company that was entering its final stages by portraying it as having “no realistic prospects for success” and as being an “ulgy mess.”

In a statement reported by the New York Post, Parneros rejected Barnes & Noble’s claims, and said he never bullied anyone. He called the sexual harassment claim “completely false,” and said he was “fully supportive of the sales process from the start.”

In Ocober, Barnes & Noble disclosed that it has entered into a formal process to evaluate strategic alternatives. Barnes & Noble said the decision follows expressions of interest from multiple parties to acquire the company — including one from Riggio.