Completing the circle of accusations and denials in the story of David Davidar’s dismissal as the president of Penguin Group (Canada), the lawyer for the former Penguin employee who filed a sexual harassment suit against Davidar has issued a statement.
Bobbi Olsen of Ricketts Harris LLP contacted media covering the story over the weekend to underline that her client, Lisa Rundle, the former rights and contracts director at Penguin Group (Canada), did not resign “nor consent in any manner, to the termination of her employment with Penguin.” This contradicts a statement in a Penguin press release from Friday, which said that “she advised the company of her decision to leave after having declined to pursue other career opportunities within the organization.”
One thing both Davidar and Rundle agree on is that they would have preferred that the matter have been dealt with quietly out of the glare of publicity. Davidar said in a statement that he was disappointed that Penguin had issued a press release outlining the case after he had agreed to the company’s request that he say that his departure was voluntary.
Olsen, too, said that the publicity was damaging for Rundle. “The termination, together with the immediate press release by Penguin Group (Canada), has left Ms. Rundle in a position of being unemployed, forced to seek work in a narrow field, in an environment where all details of her issues with her last employer are known to her potential employers and colleagues. As we do not wish this case to be debated any further within the media, Ms. Rundle will not be commenting further at this time. “
An accompanying statement of claim alleges that Davidar subjected Rundle to a three-year campaign of sexual harassment that began with inappropriate looks and comments, later advanced to sending emails, text messages and poems, stalking outside the office and finally to forcing his way into her hotel room at the Frankfurt Book Fair where he forcibly kissed her. Rundle maintains that she steadfastly rejected all his advances but did not file a complaint in the company earlier because she wanted to keep her job and hoped the harassment would stop. She says she was fired on May 13, 2010 after filing and pursuing a complaint with the human resources department of Penguin Group (Canada).
Davidar said he was “shocked” by the allegations and intends to defend himself “vigorously in the courts.”
On Monday night, Quill & Quire reported that Penguin Group (Canada)’s human resources department was aware of prior sexual harassment by Davidar of at least one other employee, former executive assistant Samantha Francis.