Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Updated: August 16, 7:48 PM ET
Skate brand sued for discrimination
By Keith Hamm
Alleging discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination, a handful of former employees of One Distribution -- which handles skate brands Supra and KR3W -- are demanding a jury trial in their case against the footwear and apparel giant and Matt Fontana, its vice president of global brands.
Almost immediately after joining the company in the spring of 2010, Fontana's "campaign of sexual harassment and discrimination . . . subjected female employees . . . to greater scrutiny, stricter standards, and treated them less favorably than similarly situated males," according to the complaint, filed last month in Orange County Superior Court. The document also accuses Fontana of creating a hostile work environment -- replete with off-color jokes, unfounded criticism, and second-hand marijuana smoke during business hours -- that exceeded "the ordinary bounds of even the most relaxed and innovative creative workplace."
Employee complaints, including those from lead plaintiff Ben Shipp, One Distribution's former creative director who was terminated late last year, were met with silence or demotions, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit's four other plaintiffs -- two women and two men -- resigned, describing the workplace as "intolerable." All five are represented by former Anaheim, Calif., deputy city attorney Deborah Knefel.
Fontana and One Distribution CEO Scott Bailey were not available for comment.
The company's legal troubles have come to light alongside major announcements of late, namely Stevie Williams' debut Supra S1W and an exclusive partnership with rapper-turned-skateboarder Lil Wayne on new footwear designs.