There's nothing less sexy than tech public relations, except maybe incessant lewd texts from your coworkers. According to a just-filed lawsuit against OpenCommunications, PR flacks have combined the two, showering a colleague with sleazy advances and unwanted groping.
The complaint was brought to court by Joseph Jackson (center), a former Account Coordinator at OpenCommunications, a small Manhattan firm that reps startups like Yext and Fiverr along with the likes of AOL and Hearst.Publicity firms like this abound in both New York and Silicon Valley, but rarely do we get a look into office culture—and rarely is it this gross. (Also, especially in the tech-bro rictus of the start-up world, rarely do we see males being victimized in this way by female co-workers)
The allegations single out Open's CEO Andy Morris—who we're told has made a name for himself among flacks as an erratic and unpleasant character—and two female employees, Katie Campisano (left) and Sally O'Dowd (right), who allegedly treated Jackson like a press-release-writing chunk of steak. The incidents are numerous:
While hugging Plaintiff JACKSON, Defendant O'DOWD sexually whispered in to his ear, "You are so handsome", "You are so awesome" and "You are so talented".
During the third unwelcome hug, Defendant O'DOWD kissed Plaintiff JACKSON on the back of his neck.
On several occasions, Defendant O'DOWD would forcibly massage Plaintiff JACKSON's arms.
On more than one occasion, Defendant O'DOWD detailed to Plaintiff JACKSON how she loved young black and Hispanic men.
On one instance, while working together in the basement at Defendant OC, Defendant CAMPISANO said that she wanted to pull Plaintiff JACKSON into the shower
For instance, in or around November 2013, Defendant CAMPISANO texted Plaintiff JACKSON, "When are we going to have our bang sesh?"
In addition, Defendant CAMPISANO also texted Plaintiff JACKSON, you "may be easier to bang when were not coworkers"
Defendant O'DOWD immediately commented on the girth of Plaintiff JACKSON's penis by stating, "It [the condom] probably wouldn't fit Joseph [Plaintiff JACKSON]."
Later in the day on or around November 15, 2013, Plaintiff JACKSON mentioned to several co-workers how he was too afraid to speak to a girl on the D-train that morning. In response, Defendant O'DOWD told Plaintiff JACKSON, "We totally need to get you fucked everyday."
Also, while Plaintiff JACKSON and Defendant O'DOWD were by the water cooler at work, Defendant O'DOWD said that, "You [Plaintiff JACKSON] remind me of my hot young Puerto Rican lover Apollo."
It goes on, and on, and on (read more in the document, below). After turning down these advances and complaining to the CEO numerous times, Morris referred to Jackson as a "hater," and dismissed his accusations:
Defendant MORRIS ignored Plaintiff JACKSON's complaint by telling him, "I don't understand what the problem is. You're doing good here."
Jackson's attorney, Rob Salaman of the Akin Law Group
, described Morris as a "chaotic monster" and "a raging alcoholic/drug user who fired four people over the weekend in a drunken rage," (Update: Mr. Salaman contacted me saying this was sent by someone using his name, and does not represent his words or opinion) and is seeking damages for lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, and punitive damages that could extend into seven figures. According to law partner Zafer Akin, Jackson is straight as far as he knows, the advances were unwanted, and moreover, he was fired as a result. Jackson isn't a "playboy" who would've, say, welcomed having his dick compared to a banana at work, Akin adds.
I contacted Morris, Campisano, O'Dowd, and Jackson for comment, and none have replied yet.