Reported in Crain’s Chicago Business on June 13, Lori McInerney, a former marketing director who started with CareerBuilder in 2002, has filed a lawsuit against her former employer. McInerney was promoted eight times during her time there without a single poor performance review, the lawsuit says. She served as regional sales director, director of strategic initiatives, and director of marketing during her tenure.
According to the lawsuit, “McInerney endured a corporate culture which turned a blind eye towards the sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying of women employees.” The lawsuit specifies that at least 10 other women McInerney talked to who have similar stories about their experience at CareerBuilder and about being bullied by sales executives.
The claim paints a very unsavory picture of life for women at the job board. “This conduct toward women ranges from sophomoric to predatory; but it is always discriminatory and is the norm,” the suit claims. “In addition to their professional responsibilities, women working at CareerBuilder must endure objectification for the entertainment and sport of their male counterparts.
“Conversely, men at CareerBuilder go about their jobs and treat their female counterparts as objects undeserving of mutual, professional respect. This culture is so firmly entrenched at CareerBuilder, by its senior management, that women are afraid to report sexual misconduct and sex discrimination for fear of adversely impacting their careers or being outright fired.”
One of the more unsavory claims in the lawsuit highlights Douglas Hoodack, currently a vice president of sales at CareerBuilder. According to the suit, at a client event called the “CareerBuilder Challenge” on January 23, 2016, McInerney excused herself to go back to her room for bed and was followed by Hoodack who “leaned into her and stated in a hushed tone, ‘I’m coming to your room.'”
McInerney said CareerBuilder’s chief sales officer John Smith was there and “even noticed that Smith gave (Hoodack) a wry, smiling nod of approval when the two made eye contact — a proverbial ‘wink and a nod.'” The suit alleges Hoodack then proceeded to follow McInerney to her room and repeatedly said “you know you want it, I’m coming to your room.” McInerney repeatedly told him “no” but that only caused Hoodack to become more aggressive, saying “What the f*ck are you going to do? I’m not leaving.”
“Fortuitously for McInerney,” the lawsuit says, “a customer happened to walk by at that time and Hoodack relented in the face of a witness.”
Two other examples of this kind of harassment are outlined in the lawsuit as well. Mistreatment, however, allegedly occurred in McInerney’s interaction with a woman as well. Highlighted in the lawsuit is Mary Delaney, now chairman at CareerBuilder’s background screening and drug testing business. Delaney allegedly made comments about McInerney’s appearance and berated her, unlike interaction with her male counterparts. The suit says high-level executives, including CEO Matt Ferguson, knew about Delaney’s abuse and ignored it.
The lawsuit claims work-related stress landed McInerney in the hospital with migraines. She complained to CHRO Rosemary Haefner, who has since left the company, about the situation. On March 15, 2017, the company terminated McInerney, three weeks after she complained about the company’s culture. Haefner allegedly told her that several marketing positions were cut, but McInerney later learned her position was the only one eliminated.
At least one anonymous review on Glassdoor supports the claim of CareerBuilder being an environment of harassment. On June 13, 2015 someone wrote that the company was “A Boys Club, high levels on incompetence at senior levels. A lot of looking the other way regarding all things unethical from blatant sexual harassment; infidelity amongst coworkers; drug and alcohol abuse. Strange that this can be tolerated in 2015.”
McInerney, who is currently marketing director at Shiftgig, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages “in excess of seven figures,” her attorney Daniel Tarpey said. The lawsuit is not a class action because McInerney doesn’t want to open up others to the pain of reliving their experiences in the public eye. Tarpey told Crain’s Chicago Business they would consider additional legal action if others came forward.
CareerBuilder spokesperson Jennifer Grasz told me via email, “CareerBuilder is not able to comment on litigation, but we are committed to providing a safe, supportive, positive work environment that treats all employees equally. This is something we take very seriously and we are examining the complaint.”
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So, if life at CareerBuilder was so challenging, why did McInerney stick around for 15 years? “Very good question,” McInenery said. “I regret that every day. It was known then if you went to HR about any of the ‘good old boys’ you were fired. I can send you many stories of women who went to HR and they did nothing and documented nothing.
“Oftentimes they were told, ‘watch out, your job could be in jeopardy.’ I am just glad I finally did something about it. Ten women reached out to me last night and all have several friends who have similar stories. They are all going to speak to my attorney. CareerBuilder will know soon that this is turning into a class-action lawsuit.”
You can access the full text of the lawsuit here. There’s also a #metoocb social media effort McInerney hopes will generate awareness for her case.