Oops, well just yesterday The Beat and Michael Sangiacomo were reporting that Archie Comics co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit was continuing to peacefully tell children about the joys of comics despite her past as the target of a sexual harassment lawsuit.
However, it seems that a series of anonymous phone calls alerted school officials to Silberkleit’s ongoing legal problems and the school visits were canceled. A comics shop appearance and the sale of comics to benefit the schools have gone on as planned. But there is much more than that going on.
School officials discussed their concerns with the Elyria Comic Book Initiative, the educational group that arranged the speeches, and the speeches were canceled.
“The pending litigation between Silberkleit and her company would potentially detract from the real value of the comic book fairs, which is to have children become excited about learning through comic books,” said initiative President Ken Glanc.
Attorney Robert Weible, who heads Baker Hostetler’s Securities & Corporate Governance Practice Team, said it’s rare for someone to have such outbursts at board meetings, but it is also rare for someone to be sued over it.
“You might hear the occasional profanity, but by and large, a high percentage of board discussions are done at a professional level, even all male boards. Conversations later over drinks are more jovial.
“There must be more to the story,” he continued. “As unusual as that expression is, I can’t imagine bringing an action against her over it.”
In addition, CBR has obtained the text of a November 28th court order injuncting Silberkleit from having anything to do with the running of the company:
In the Nov. 28 preliminary injunction, obtained by CBR News, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich, also ruled that Silberkleit must refrain from any contact with Archie staff or vendors regarding matters other than those required by her employment contract. The order is only the latest development in a struggle within the comics company that came to light in July when Archie sued Silberkleit, seeking to remove her from its Mamaroneck, N.Y., offices because of what it described as “inappropriate and offensive language and behavior.”
According to court documents, Silberkleit declined to participate in an investigation conducted by an outside firm hired by Archie following the employee allegations. In its June 24 findings, the firm reported assertions by employees that Silberkleit created “nervousness and disruption” in an office otherwise described as “generally amiable, cheerful and creative,” and had threatened many of their jobs. A number of staff members also expressed concerns about their personal safety. The firm subsequently recommended Archie seek to remove Silberkleit from its headquarters, and prevent her from having contact with employees or vendors.
Other actionable Silberkleit behavior included asking employees to pull their pants down (in front of a vendor) and claiming that another employee was popular “just because she had big boobies.”
For her part, Silberkleit claims that she is the victim of a sexist attempt to remove her from the company by co-CEO Jon Goldwater.
“He has called me ‘stupid,’ a ‘moron,’ and ‘despicable,'” Silberkleit said in an affidavit filed in early July. “In the presence of others he has told me to ‘shut up’ and ‘why can’t you be sweet, nice and quiet like a lady?’ ” Contrary to affidavits from seven Archie employees, Silberkleit said she has never made threatening or demeaning comments or off-color jokes that might jeopardize the operation of the company.
Both Goldwater and Silberkleit gained control of Archie after the deaths of the previous co-owners, Michael Silberkleit and Richard Goldwater, who died in 2008 and 2007, respectively. While Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich basically ruled in favor of Archie, citing their many affidavits of Silberkleit’s objectionable behavior, removing her from the company — she is 50% co-owner — is more difficult. At this point Silberkleit has been injuncted from acting on Archie’s behalf, but the situation could possibly tear the company apart, according to Judge Kornreich.
Bottom line: a mess.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.