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Former Bowlero executive says company threatened to report him to FBI

former executive of bowleroThe world's largest bowling center owner and operator has asked a court for permission to countersued its former employer for extortion and retaliation after an executive on a recorded call threatened to call the FBI unless he acknowledged leaking trade secrets. Ta. According to a transcript of the conversation filed in court.

The complaint, filed Wednesday in a counterclaim in federal court in Virginia by Mr. Bowlero's former chief information officer, Thomas Tanase, comes after he and dozens of others filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This happened after. be fired because of age or in retaliation, according to the company's securities filings and proposed counterclaim.bowlero deny the claim.

The company went public through a special acquisition purpose company (SPAC) in late 2021, and was one of a select group of successful stocks to emerge from the SPAC boom. The company owns two of the bowling world's biggest brands, AMF and Lucky Strike, and operates more than 300 bowling centers across North America as of July. According to company filings, Bowlero's annual sales will nearly triple from 2021 to 2023, from $395 million to $1.06 billion, and sales will increase by 10% to 15% in fiscal 2024. It is expected to increase by %.

Tanase joined the company's information technology division in 2001 and was later promoted to executive management, working closely with the company's CEO and frequently accessing confidential information contained in the CEO's email account, the court said. stated in the submission. He said the company fired him in May because of his age and filed a discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC in August, according to a copy of the invoice included as evidence in the counterclaim.

Bowlero said Tanase resigned but changed his mind when he learned he would not receive severance pay. In July, the company accused CEO Thomas Shannon of hacking his email account, copying company documents to a personal USB drive and refusing to hand over company-issued devices. did. Mr. Tanase denies the allegations.

Mr. Tanase is now asking the court for permission to countersued Mr. Bowlero and the company's executive vice chairman, Brett Parker. Federal rules require Mr. Tanase to obtain leave to counterclaim, considering the timing of the filing.

In his counterclaim, Tanase said Parker would have to deny Shannon access to his emails and “come clean” about the information he shared with EEOC plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Do and CNBC. They allege that he threatened to call the FBI.I previously wrote about Allegations of discrimination against Bowlero. During a deposition in March, Tanase testified that he had not discussed the company with CNBC or other media outlets.

“You tell us everything you know.”

In a telephone conversation between Mr. Tanase and Mr. Parker that Mr. Tanase recorded in June 2023, Bowlero, vice chairman and former financial director, repeatedly asked Mr. Tanase to clarify what he had said, and he did so. He is said to have told her that if she did so, everything would be forgiven. Records attached as evidence of the proposed counterclaim.

“There is a way for you to become our friend if you come clean… You tell us everything that happened… You tell us everything you know about Dow. …Tell me everything that's ever happened with Dow…on CNBC,'' Parker said during the conversation, according to the transcript.

“There could be numbers, there could be withdrawals and we can move forward. But we need to get the truth and complete clarity,” Parker said, according to the transcript. he said.

“You can… get back into our good graces and be our friend on this issue, and you can reap the rewards, but it has to start with the truth. .”

According to records, Mr. Parker told Mr. Tanase that if he explained everything and shared the information he had disclosed, the company could give him a “termination,” but “the police were the reason for this.'' I really hate it,'' he said.

“I won't be able to fight this internally and you'll be trying to explain to the FBI that a device did this and I don't want you to be in that position. “I'm deaf,” Parker said. to the transcript.

“Help me help you,” he added.

In response, Tanase repeatedly told Parker that he had not shared the information with anyone and that he was in the hospital when Shannon's email account was allegedly compromised, records state. . As Mr. Bowlero's former CIO, he said he had previously accessed the CEO's account and may still be logged in on another device.

According to the newspaper, Tanase said, “I haven't done anything illegal. I haven't done anything malicious. I haven't talked to anyone or leaked any information. “I also spoke to him,” he said. Transcription.

Bowlero said the records simply show that the company was willing to extend an “olive branch” to Tanase if he confessed to the hacking charges.

“Far from seeking to unfairly benefit from Mr. Tanase…Mr. Parker admits that he was 'trying to help' him.” This is an act that neither he nor Mr. Parker should have had to do,” Bowlero said in his filing.

“Indeed, the 'extortion' that Mr. Tanase is suggesting is clearly not such a thing. Therefore, even if Mr. Tanase had a right of private action against the extortion claim, here “The elements of such a claim have not been met,” the company said.

Mr. Tanase also claims that the lawsuit against Mr. Bowlero was brought in retaliation for his refusal to sign a termination agreement that waived his right to sue the company. He also claims that he filed the complaint to prevent Mr. Baurero from filing a complaint with the EEOC or serving as a witness in the investigation against Mr. Baurero.

Mr. Tanase's lawyers are seeking approximately $8 million in damages from Bowlero on the extortion claim and more than $27 million on the retaliation claim.

Late Thursday, Mr. Bowlero asked the judge overseeing the case to sanction Mr. Tanase by dismissing the counterclaim and entering a default judgment in the company's favor or excluding him from further testimony. I asked for it. The company said in a court filing that Mr. Tanase acknowledged that he had misstated facts in an earlier court affidavit, which he later corrected, and that he has hired at least three different law firms since the start of the case. He said he pointed that out.

“Mr. Tanase has so seriously impeached his credibility that no testimony in his defense can rehabilitate him. In these circumstances, a default judgment is appropriate to protect the integrity of the judicial process.” Bowlero said in a 2018 memo. We support the request for sanctions.

Alex Spiro, Mr. Bowlero's attorney at the law firm Quinn Emanuel, which also represents celebrities such as Elon Musk and Alec Baldwin, said in a statement to CNBC that Mr. Tanase's countersuit “is likely to fail. “It is almost certain that we will lose the case.'' It will be rejected. ”

“Mr. Tanase is now asking the court for permission to file a baseless counterclaim against Mr. Bowlero, five months after the deadline and five days before discovery ends, in an attempt to divert attention from his misdeeds. “This cynical effort is fatally flawed on both merits and dimensions,” Spiro said. “And Mr. Bowlero is confident that this law will prevail in his case against Mr. Tanase.”

“His counterclaims are completely frivolous and we are seeking fees to respond to his claims,” ​​he said.

In response, Tanase's attorney, Scott Pickus, told CNBC that if the court does not allow the counterclaim in Tanase's case to proceed, he could file a new lawsuit, saying, “We probably will. I guess so.'' He said he “totally” disagrees that the counterclaim's allegations are frivolous.

He said he would not comment on Tanase's statements regarding factual errors.

“Suffice it to say, we disagree with Mr. Bowlero's interpretation of the law, we disagree with Mr. Bowlero's recitation of the facts, and we look forward to trying this matter,” Pickus said.

EEOC investigation

Bowlero is involved in an EEOC investigation Since 2016, the case involves more than 70 former employees who allege they were wrongfully fired. They claim Bowlero fired them for being too old as the company worked to convert hundreds of its stores from what it called “dingy” bowling alleys to bowling alleys. are doing. luxury experience We provide high quality food and drinks.

According to a complaint and affidavit filed by three former employees, including Tanase, Shannon held “beauty pageants” with prospective employees via short video calls to evaluate candidates' appearance as part of the hiring process. ” was sponsored.

Tanase's complaint accuses Shannon of making “racial and particularly inappropriate 'blonde girl' jokes” and of “constantly treating him like a woman.”[e]Tanase also said the company's policy prohibiting Timberland boots and ball caps from being worn backwards was “designed to discourage African American men” from using the company's bowling centers. insisted.

According to Tanase's complaint and company reports, the EEOC found probable cause for most of the complaints filed against Bowlero, including Tanase, but the remainder remain under investigation. If the EEOC finds reasonable cause in a complaint, that means the EEOC believes that: discrimination occurred.

The EEOC previously tried to settle the complaint with Bowlero for $60 million in January 2023, but that effort failed last April, CNBC previously reported. The agency can now file a federal lawsuit against the company, but it's unclear whether it will actually do so. The EEOC commissioner must vote on the issue before the agency can sue Baurero in federal court.

Spiro, Bowlero's attorney, told CNBC that the employment discrimination claim is “without merit.”

“The so-called EEOC issues are allegations of age-based discrimination, some of which date back nearly a decade, and no civil or EEOC litigation has ever been filed regarding those allegations,” Spiro wrote in an email. .

Mr. Tanase's attorney, Mr. Picas, said the EEOC's reasonable cause finding that Mr. Bowlero engaged in discriminatory conduct dating back to 2013 “belies Mr. Spiro's contention that his client's counterclaim is frivolous.” It seems so.''

“These findings by the EEOC may be the reason Mr. Bowlero sued Mr. Tanase. Mr. Bowlero's actions are reminiscent of a sports cliché: The best defense is a good offense,” Picus said. he added.

“We look forward to proving both claims,” ​​he said.

duel claim

What remains at issue is whether Mr. Tanase resigned or was fired from his post. This dispute is at the heart of Mr. Bowlero's lawsuit, Mr. Tanase's counterclaim, and the EEOC's claims, all of which are separate but related cases.

Tanase said that prior to separating from Bowlero, the company began micromanaging and harassing him by closely monitoring his work in hopes of finding a reason to fire him. According to the EEOC's complaint, Tanase described the process as “managing” and proposed a counterclaim.

“Mr. Tanase had suspected for months that his employment was in jeopardy, but while he had full access to Mr. Bowlero's office, office files, and organization, he was unable to secure confidential information or remove property. , and at no time did he attempt to engage in any other self-serving conduct as a “computer server,'' Tanase's lawyers wrote in the counterclaim.

In the EEOC's decision, which found that Mr. Tanase's age discrimination claim was the cause, Director Rosemary Rose cited the actions of Mr. Tanase's then-boss, Lev Exter, now president of Bowlero. wrote that it “included unwarranted hostility, frequent criticism, unnecessary revisions of his work, and conduct that undermined his accomplishments.” His authority and role over his subordinates and vendors. ”

According to the lawsuit against Mr. Tanase, Mr. Bowlero claimed that after Mr. Tanase left the company, he vowed to “take revenge” on his former employer and “bury” the CEO. The company claims in its lawsuit that Tanase told Heather Webb, Bowlero's vice president of human resources, that he had discussed the company with multiple attorneys, including CNBC and Dow.

“Mr. Tanase said he was “walking away,'' and Mr. Webb said this meant that if Mr. Bowlero paid him a “severance package'' of $1.2 million, he would no longer seek revenge or retaliation against Mr. Bowlero or Mr. Shannon. '' Mr. Bowlero refused to pay,'' Mr. Bowlero's lawsuit states. Mr. Tanase denies the allegations.

Summarize this content to 100 words former executive of bowleroThe world's largest bowling center owner and operator has asked a court for permission to countersued its former employer for extortion and retaliation after an executive on a recorded call threatened to call the FBI unless he acknowledged leaking trade secrets. Ta. According to a transcript of the conversation filed in court.The complaint, filed Wednesday in a counterclaim in federal court in Virginia by Mr. Bowlero's former chief information officer, Thomas Tanase, comes after he and dozens of others filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This happened after. be fired because of age or in retaliation, according to the company's securities filings and proposed counterclaim.bowlero deny the claim.The company went public through a special acquisition purpose company (SPAC) in late 2021, and was one of a select group of successful stocks to emerge from the SPAC boom. The company owns two of the bowling world's biggest brands, AMF and Lucky Strike, and operates more than 300 bowling centers across North America as of July. According to company filings, Bowlero's annual sales will nearly triple from 2021 to 2023, from $395 million to $1.06 billion, and sales will increase by 10% to 15% in fiscal 2024. It is expected to increase by %.Tanase joined the company's information technology division in 2001 and was later promoted to executive management, working closely with the company's CEO and frequently accessing confidential information contained in the CEO's email account, the court said. stated in the submission. He said the company fired him in May because of his age and filed a discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC in August, according to a copy of the invoice included as evidence in the counterclaim.Bowlero said Tanase resigned but changed his mind when he learned he would not receive severance pay. In July, the company accused CEO Thomas Shannon of hacking his email account, copying company documents to a personal USB drive and refusing to hand over company-issued devices. did. Mr. Tanase denies the allegations.Mr. Tanase is now asking the court for permission to countersued Mr. Bowlero and the company's executive vice chairman, Brett Parker. Federal rules require Mr. Tanase to obtain leave to counterclaim, considering the timing of the filing.In his counterclaim, Tanase said Parker would have to deny Shannon access to his emails and “come clean” about the information he shared with EEOC plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Do and CNBC. They allege that he threatened to call the FBI.I previously wrote about Allegations of discrimination against Bowlero. During a deposition in March, Tanase testified that he had not discussed the company with CNBC or other media outlets.“You tell us everything you know.”In a telephone conversation between Mr. Tanase and Mr. Parker that Mr. Tanase recorded in June 2023, Bowlero, vice chairman and former financial director, repeatedly asked Mr. Tanase to clarify what he had said, and he did so. He is said to have told her that if she did so, everything would be forgiven. Records attached as evidence of the proposed counterclaim.”There is a way for you to become our friend if you come clean… You tell us everything that happened… You tell us everything you know about Dow. …Tell me everything that's ever happened with Dow…on CNBC,'' Parker said during the conversation, according to the transcript.”There could be numbers, there could be withdrawals and we can move forward. But we need to get the truth and complete clarity,” Parker said, according to the transcript. he said. “You can… get back into our good graces and be our friend on this issue, and you can reap the rewards, but it has to start with the truth. .”According to records, Mr. Parker told Mr. Tanase that if he explained everything and shared the information he had disclosed, the company could give him a “termination,” but “the police were the reason for this.'' I really hate it,'' he said. “I won't be able to fight this internally and you'll be trying to explain to the FBI that a device did this and I don't want you to be in that position. “I'm deaf,” Parker said. to the transcript. “Help me help you,” he added.In response, Tanase repeatedly told Parker that he had not shared the information with anyone and that he was in the hospital when Shannon's email account was allegedly compromised, records state. . As Mr. Bowlero's former CIO, he said he had previously accessed the CEO's account and may still be logged in on another device. According to the newspaper, Tanase said, “I haven't done anything illegal. I haven't done anything malicious. I haven't talked to anyone or leaked any information. “I also spoke to him,” he said. Transcription. Bowlero said the records simply show that the company was willing to extend an “olive branch” to Tanase if he confessed to the hacking charges. “Far from seeking to unfairly benefit from Mr. Tanase…Mr. Parker admits that he was 'trying to help' him.” This is an act that neither he nor Mr. Parker should have had to do,” Bowlero said in his filing. “Indeed, the 'extortion' that Mr. Tanase is suggesting is clearly not such a thing. Therefore, even if Mr. Tanase had a right of private action against the extortion claim, here “The elements of such a claim have not been met,” the company said.Mr. Tanase also claims that the lawsuit against Mr. Bowlero was brought in retaliation for his refusal to sign a termination agreement that waived his right to sue the company. He also claims that he filed the complaint to prevent Mr. Baurero from filing a complaint with the EEOC or serving as a witness in the investigation against Mr. Baurero.Mr. Tanase's lawyers are seeking approximately $8 million in damages from Bowlero on the extortion claim and more than $27 million on the retaliation claim.Late Thursday, Mr. Bowlero asked the judge overseeing the case to sanction Mr. Tanase by dismissing the counterclaim and entering a default judgment in the company's favor or excluding him from further testimony. I asked for it. The company said in a court filing that Mr. Tanase acknowledged that he had misstated facts in an earlier court affidavit, which he later corrected, and that he has hired at least three different law firms since the start of the case. He said he pointed that out.”Mr. Tanase has so seriously impeached his credibility that no testimony in his defense can rehabilitate him. In these circumstances, a default judgment is appropriate to protect the integrity of the judicial process.” Bowlero said in a 2018 memo. We support the request for sanctions. Alex Spiro, Mr. Bowlero's attorney at the law firm Quinn Emanuel, which also represents celebrities such as Elon Musk and Alec Baldwin, said in a statement to CNBC that Mr. Tanase's countersuit “is likely to fail. “It is almost certain that we will lose the case.'' It will be rejected. ” “Mr. Tanase is now asking the court for permission to file a baseless counterclaim against Mr. Bowlero, five months after the deadline and five days before discovery ends, in an attempt to divert attention from his misdeeds. “This cynical effort is fatally flawed on both merits and dimensions,” Spiro said. “And Mr. Bowlero is confident that this law will prevail in his case against Mr. Tanase.””His counterclaims are completely frivolous and we are seeking fees to respond to his claims,” ​​he said.In response, Tanase's attorney, Scott Pickus, told CNBC that if the court does not allow the counterclaim in Tanase's case to proceed, he could file a new lawsuit, saying, “We probably will. I guess so.'' He said he “totally” disagrees that the counterclaim's allegations are frivolous. He said he would not comment on Tanase's statements regarding factual errors.”Suffice it to say, we disagree with Mr. Bowlero's interpretation of the law, we disagree with Mr. Bowlero's recitation of the facts, and we look forward to trying this matter,” Pickus said.EEOC investigationBowlero is involved in an EEOC investigation Since 2016, the case involves more than 70 former employees who allege they were wrongfully fired. They claim Bowlero fired them for being too old as the company worked to convert hundreds of its stores from what it called “dingy” bowling alleys to bowling alleys. are doing. luxury experience We provide high quality food and drinks. According to a complaint and affidavit filed by three former employees, including Tanase, Shannon held “beauty pageants” with prospective employees via short video calls to evaluate candidates' appearance as part of the hiring process. ” was sponsored. Tanase's complaint accuses Shannon of making “racial and particularly inappropriate 'blonde girl' jokes” and of “constantly treating him like a woman.”[e]Tanase also said the company's policy prohibiting Timberland boots and ball caps from being worn backwards was “designed to discourage African American men” from using the company's bowling centers. insisted.According to Tanase's complaint and company reports, the EEOC found probable cause for most of the complaints filed against Bowlero, including Tanase, but the remainder remain under investigation. If the EEOC finds reasonable cause in a complaint, that means the EEOC believes that: discrimination occurred.The EEOC previously tried to settle the complaint with Bowlero for $60 million in January 2023, but that effort failed last April, CNBC previously reported. The agency can now file a federal lawsuit against the company, but it's unclear whether it will actually do so. The EEOC commissioner must vote on the issue before the agency can sue Baurero in federal court. Spiro, Bowlero's attorney, told CNBC that the employment discrimination claim is “without merit.”“The so-called EEOC issues are allegations of age-based discrimination, some of which date back nearly a decade, and no civil or EEOC litigation has ever been filed regarding those allegations,” Spiro wrote in an email. . Mr. Tanase's attorney, Mr. Picas, said the EEOC's reasonable cause finding that Mr. Bowlero engaged in discriminatory conduct dating back to 2013 “belies Mr. Spiro's contention that his client's counterclaim is frivolous.” It seems so.''”These findings by the EEOC may be the reason Mr. Bowlero sued Mr. Tanase. Mr. Bowlero's actions are reminiscent of a sports cliché: The best defense is a good offense,” Picus said. he added.”We look forward to proving both claims,” ​​he said.duel claimWhat remains at issue is whether Mr. Tanase resigned or was fired from his post. This dispute is at the heart of Mr. Bowlero's lawsuit, Mr. Tanase's counterclaim, and the EEOC's claims, all of which are separate but related cases.Tanase said that prior to separating from Bowlero, the company began micromanaging and harassing him by closely monitoring his work in hopes of finding a reason to fire him. According to the EEOC's complaint, Tanase described the process as “managing” and proposed a counterclaim. “Mr. Tanase had suspected for months that his employment was in jeopardy, but while he had full access to Mr. Bowlero's office, office files, and organization, he was unable to secure confidential information or remove property. , and at no time did he attempt to engage in any other self-serving conduct as a “computer server,'' Tanase's lawyers wrote in the counterclaim.In the EEOC's decision, which found that Mr. Tanase's age discrimination claim was the cause, Director Rosemary Rose cited the actions of Mr. Tanase's then-boss, Lev Exter, now president of Bowlero. wrote that it “included unwarranted hostility, frequent criticism, unnecessary revisions of his work, and conduct that undermined his accomplishments.” His authority and role over his subordinates and vendors. ” According to the lawsuit against Mr. Tanase, Mr. Bowlero claimed that after Mr. Tanase left the company, he vowed to “take revenge” on his former employer and “bury” the CEO. The company claims in its lawsuit that Tanase told Heather Webb, Bowlero's vice president of human resources, that he had discussed the company with multiple attorneys, including CNBC and Dow.”Mr. Tanase said he was “walking away,'' and Mr. Webb said this meant that if Mr. Bowlero paid him a “severance package'' of $1.2 million, he would no longer seek revenge or retaliation against Mr. Bowlero or Mr. Shannon. '' Mr. Bowlero refused to pay,'' Mr. Bowlero's lawsuit states. Mr. Tanase denies the allegations.
https://www.cnbc.com/2024/04/09/former-bowlero-exec-says-company-threatened-to-report-him-to-fbi.html Former Bowlero executive says company threatened to report him to FBI

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