Misconduct in the News – April 2024

Last month, our flagship The State of Misconduct at Work in 2023 research report uncovered that 1 in 10 candidates last year were found with misconduct issues – double what the industry considers “safe” levels.  

In April 2024’s edition of Misconduct in the News, we’re examining some of the key scandals that made headlines this month. From Kanye West’s “Hitler-like” behavior at work, to Sam Bankman Fried’s 25-year sentence, to the healthcare worker who shared anti-vaccine posts on Facebook and ultimately lost her job, to the seemingly endless and horrific sexual misconduct at Nickelodeon, these examples of Employee and Executive Misconduct are ones you can’t miss.

Let’s start by looking at examples of Executive Misconduct scandals.

Executive Misconduct

  • Sean 'Diddy' Combs' accuser's lawyer claims record labels 'funded' Combs' alleged sex trafficking (Fox News)
  • Secrets of Diddy’s billionaire boys club: Rapper wooed Wall Street elite — who praised him as ‘genius’ before sex-trafficking probe (NY Post)
  • Blackberry enabled ‘Mad Men-era sexual harassment,’ lawsuit alleges (Kron4)
"John Giamatteo, Blackberry’s newly promoted CEO, has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the US District Court Nothern California District."
  • ‘Hitler level stuff’ | Former employee suing Ye, Yeezy, and Donda Academy for alleged discrimination, harassment, and retaliation (HR Grapevine)
  • SBF Is Going to Prison, but the Fight Over Money at FTX Drags On (WSJ)
  • Denver, NC church fires lead pastor for sexual misconduct (WBTV)
  • Why Jerrod Carmichael Misses Ousted Hollywood Producer Scott Rudin (Esquire)
"In 2021, The New York Times, Vulture, and The Hollywood Reporter published extensive reports of powerful film producer Scott Rudin’s alleged workplace misconduct. The stories detailed various concerning incidents, including Rudin throwing phones at his assistants, screaming at coworkers, and slamming a computer on someone’s hand when they were unable to book him a seat on a sold-out flight."
  • NFL to investigate new sexual misconduct allegations against Washington Commanders owner (AOL)
  • Dancers suing Lizzo call musician's 'I quit' post 'a joke': 'She continues to blame everyone else' (Entertainment Weekly)
  • The Supreme Court Still Has an Ethics Problem (Bloomberg)
"It has been a year since the Clarence Thomas-Harlan Crow exposé, yet the nine justices remain the most powerful, least accountable part of our government."
  • The Forgotten Failures Of Guy Fieri (Mashed)
“The chef has been accused of workplace misconduct that included some serious allegations of homophobic and antisemitic comments. He has reportedly gotten into at least one physical altercation.”
  • Norfolk Southern activist investor highlights past abusive behavior of new COO as proxy fight intensifies (CNBC)
“Norfolk Southern has been in a battle with activist investor Ancora for about two months. The firm is trying to shake up the railroad's board and oust CEO Alan Shaw. On Friday, Ancora took aim at the company's new COO John Orr over what the activist called an "excessive" buyout package and a career marred by allegations of racial and sexual discrimination.”
  • LGBTQ+ groups condemn Suns owner Mat Ishbia's use of antigay slur in voicemail (AZ Central)
  • City of Kamloops promises legal action after mayor’s leak of Code of Conduct investigation report (CFJC Today)
  • BREAKING: Bills Fire Top Executive For Having “Unethical” Relationship With Member Of Team’s Front Office (Total Pro Sports)

Employee Misconduct

"Dismissal of healthcare worker upheld by courts; worker could be on hook for costs"
"Within a month of taking office, Tape announced he’s eliminating the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners team. This was met with public criticism, especially because his ex-girlfriend accused him of molesting her daughter 20 years prior."
  • Nurse Resigns From Toxic Workplace and Moves Back to Mokopane To Preserve Mental Health (Briefly)
  • Workers in NV child mental health program say manager bullied them 'with nobody to help’ (Nevada Independent)
"A supervisor built a culture of fear, retaliation and paranoia, 15 employees told The Nevada Independent. She still works for the state."
  • Clinton County settles workplace misconduct lawsuits for $362k, Times Union reports (NCPR)
  • Space Center row | Your transgender employees are under attack - here's how HR can help (HR Grapevine)
  • Airline employee who pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct on Phoenix flight is facing a civil lawsuit (12News)
  • Melbourne Uni Fined $74,590 Over Casual Academics' Misconduct (Mirage News)
  • Exposed: Child sex abuse and toxic workplace environments behind popular Nickelodeon shows (The New Daily)
"A new docuseries, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, has dived into the on-screen sexualisation of Nickelodeon stars, as well as serious assault and allegations of harassment that occurred behind the scenes."
  • Former Nickelodeon star Matthew Underwood says he quit acting after he was molested and sexually assaulted (Good Morning America)
  • Ed Henry Fired by Fox News After Sexual Misconduct Investigation (People Magazine)
  • Life Is Strange Studio A Toxic Workplace, Former Employees Say (24ssports)
"Deck Nine employees were reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, bullying and transphobia, to which management failed to respond for “months,” they said IGN Report."
  • Matt Lauer Feels 'He Was The Victim' in Sexual Misconduct Scandal and is Planning Career Comeback: Report (RadarOnline)

Research & Regulations

  • New Jersey Bill Aims to Broaden Standard for Harassment Claims & Require Written Workplace Policies and Employee Training (JDSupra)
  • Bill 42: an Act to Prevent and Fight Psychological Harassment and Sexual Violence in the Workplace (Fasken)
  • Survey suggests London workers afraid to report sexual harassment at work (The Standard)

These kinds of corporate misconduct, whether employee or executive misconduct, are unequivocally unacceptable. The incidents highlighted above aren’t merely sensational headlines; they are serious breaches of trust, ethics, and the law that have real impacts on individuals' lives and organizational integrity and profitability.

It is crucial for leaders across industries to understand their pivotal role in not only addressing but proactively preventing these issues. This starts with cultivating a culture where ethical practices are the norm, not the exception. It also entails fostering an environment of openness and safety where employees feel empowered to speak up, ensuring swift and fair action is taken against misconduct, and adopting the right risk mitigation solutions like online pre-employment screening for misconduct. Leaders must lead by example, demonstrating a zero-tolerance approach to any form of misconduct and taking definitive steps to rectify the root causes of these problems. This multi-prong approach to creating safe, inclusive, and misconduct-free workplaces ensure headlines like this cease to occur: 7 years after Weinstein, commission finds cultural shift in Hollywood but less accountability

In doing so, we can hope to see a future where such headlines are the exception, not the norm, paving the way for a more ethical, respectful, and inclusive workplace culture.