Company News

Barnes & Noble ending litigation with ex-CEO it accused of harassment

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Barnes & Noble Inc and former Chief Executive Demos Parneros are ending litigation over his July 2018 firing, which he called a breach of contract and which the largest U.S. bookstore chain linked in part to claims he had sexually harassed a female employee.

Parneros and Barnes & Noble on Monday asked a Manhattan federal judge to dismiss all claims and counterclaims with prejudice, meaning they cannot be brought again. A final pretrial conference had been scheduled for Nov. 6.

Lawyers for Barnes & Noble did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Anne Clark, a lawyer for Parneros, declined to comment.

Parneros had sued Barnes & Noble in August 2018 for more than $4 million in severance plus other damages, saying the company and Leonard Riggio, its founder and largest shareholder, made up reasons to fire him after just 14 months on the job.

Barnes & Noble countersued two months later, saying Parneros breached his duties of loyalty and good faith by harassing the employee, bullying its chief financial officer, and trying to “sabotage” a sale of the company that would cost him the chief executive role.

Parneros denied Barnes & Noble’s accusations.

On Sept. 3, U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil dismissed Parneros’ defamation claim but found “triable issues” concerning whether Barnes & Noble acted in good faith by firing him 11 days before he was to receive a $3.6 million equity award.

Affiliates of Elliott Management Corp bought Barnes & Noble in Aug. 2019 for about $476 million in cash excluding assumed debt, according to regulatory filings.

The case is Parneros v Barnes & Noble Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-07834. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Grant McCool)