Five women who used to work for Monster Energy Drink have sued the company, alleging that their careers were derailed after speaking up about sexual discrimination.
The HuffPost reports that three men currently still at the company—head of music marketing Brent Hamilton, Vice President John Kenneally, and manager Phillip Deitrich—are the subject of four different lawsuits. Hamilton has been accused of assault, while the three other lawsuits against Kenneally and Deitrich focus on sexual discrimination. There’s also a fifth lawsuit involving the company’s former female head of HR.
Sara Rabuse, a 37-year-old makeup artist, tells the site that Hamilton assaulted her while they were both in Los Angeles for the Country Music Awards:
They fought, Rabuse said. Hamilton was drunk and assaulted her, according to the lawsuit she has filed against him.
Rabuse had red marks around her neck from Hamilton trying to strangle her, according to the police report. Her thumb was bloody from where Hamilton bit her. Her nails were broken from fighting him off. Hamilton had pulled her hair so hard that clumps were yanked out, she said.
Hamilton was arrested for the assault and will appear in court this summer for charges of aggravated assault. Rabuse also filed a suit against Hamilton and Monster Beverage claiming negligence, battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Jamie Leigh Hogan, a former regional manager for Monster Energy, says that she faced gender discrimination under Phillip Deitrich starting in 2015.
Deitrich, 51, had it out for Hogan from the start, she told HuffPost. He would second-guess Hogan’s every decision, according to the suit. When she presented data at meetings, he’d publicly challenge any reports or facts in front of her peers. He called her a “poor excuse of an employee” at a sales meeting in front of others, according to the suit.
Most discomfiting, he’d fly into her sales territory ― unannounced ― and take meetings without her, the suit alleges. That’s unusual.
“You want to look like a united front,” she said. “He’d come in and try to see if I was doing anything wrong.”
After three months of Deitrich’s behavior, Hogan went to Human Resources and explained the situation. They approved a medical leave of absence due to her resulting anxiety and depression, but when she returned, Deitrich was still working there as her boss. Hogan ended up quitting and filing a lawsuit against Monster for sexual discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Mary Frances “Fran” Pulizzi says that her boss at Monster Energy, John Kenneally, was a “boss from hell,” reportedly gossiping about other female coworkers and even calling one a whore. After Pulizzi helped the HR department investigate discrimination claims against Kenneally for the “whore” incident, she was assured her comments would be kept confidential. But HR did not honor that confidence and Kenneally lashed out against Pulizzi:
“He told people I worked as a barista at Starbucks instead of doing my job full-time,” Pulizzi said, adding that Kenneally spread a rumor that she was having money problems and also worked as a babysitter. This rumor-mongering led to Pulizzi receiving her first poor performance review, she said.
“No one would take my calls or talk to me,” Pulizzi said. “It was scary, the impact he had.”
When she wanted to file a formal complaint against him, she was told by HR to sleep on it.
Page Zeringue, who worked for Monster as a regional manager, began a romantic relationship with Kenneally in 2014. At first, she received promotions and raises, but then Kenneally became increasingly jealous, reading her texts and emails and sending profane text messages to her. After Zeringue went to HR to file a complaint about another executive who harassed her, Kenneally told her she should have “kept her mouth shut” and then eventually fired her. She went on to file a lawsuit against Monster for sexual discrimination.
Sarah Lozano, who worked with the Monster HR department from 2013 to 2015, also had issues with her colleagues. She said that Christina Seafort, who was the head of HR at the time, accused her of having sex with a married coworker at a company event. “It made me feel worthless,” Lozano said in a deposition. “My credibility and my morals and ethics and my history of working with her was completely washed away over this allegation.”
Lozano ended up filing three different lawsuits against Monster, one for lost wages, another seeking workers’ compensation, and another for harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. She won $56,000 from the California labor board but Monster appealed and she settled for $20,000.
Monster has largely denied the claims, writing the women off as disgruntled employees and, in response to HuffPost’s request for comment before the article was published, put Kenneally on paid leave.
“The only connection is that these individuals suing Monster for money have endeavored to band together to litigate their cases in the media,” Monster wrote in their statement to HuffPost. “The cases are diverse, unrelated and do not remotely suggest a systemic environment of harassment or discrimination.”