Not Cool at All,|Skate Shop Workers Say

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – Former employees claim in court that their pot-smoking boss at a skate shop forced them to pose for “sexually prurient” ads and work with “crude and questionably pornographic material” though their target market is children.
     Three young women and two men sued One Distribution Co. and its Vice President of Global Brands Matt Fontana, in Orange County Court.
     The workers say they were demoted and forced to quit after they complained about sexual harassment and drug use on the job.
     “Fontana subjected the female employees on One Distribution to greater scrutiny, stricter standards and treated them less favorably than similarly situated males,” the complaint states. “Fontana compelled employees to ‘pose’ for sexually prurient prospective ads and to engage in work with inappropriate sexual content, advertising crude and questionable pornographic sexual material when the customer market for their work product is children (specifically boys) from the ages of 11 to 17 (primarily skating and skateboard apparel). Fontana’s conduct was so offensive and inappropriate as to exceed the ordinary bounds of even the most relaxed and innovative creative workplace.”
     Lead plaintiff Ben Shipp claims that he “was also subjected to Fontana smoking marijuana in the company’s van during working hours.”
     Shipp says he was demoted after reporting “Fontana’s illegal conduct and sexually hostile working environment.” He says that he and three other plaintiffs – Mia Janson, Michelle Blaze and Mathew Mickel – “all complained to management, including but not limited to the sham human resources officers and the company CEO Scott Bailey, to no avail.”
     Shipp was fired and others say that when they protested the firing, they also demoted and eventually “forced to resign.”
     The final plaintiff, Cullen Poythress, says he quit to escape the “intolerable hostile working environment.”
     The plaintiffs seek statutory damages and punitive damages for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and failure to take effective remedial action.
     They are represented by Deborah Pernice Knefel, with William M. Crosby, Barnes, Crosby, Fitzgerald & Zelman, of Irvine.

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