Sexts, lies, and -- crickets? The week's worst employees


I know I'm always preaching to employers about how not to be jerks and how to treat employees legally and fairly. But not everything is the employer's fault. How would you like to have these people working for you?

Sexts. Our first one is not technically an employee, but close enough. In a case that is getting a lot of attention in the legal-gossip world, Bill Voge, who was the Chairman of biglaw firm Latham & Watkins, resigned this week. The original story was that he sexted a married woman who was not with the firm and got caught. Then more information started coming out. Mr. Voge was on the Board of the New Canaan Society, a Christian men's fellowship group. Apparently, one of Mr. Voge's fellow "New Canaanites" had asked for Mr. Voge's help in reconciling him with his wife.

Big mistake.

I don't think this means what he thinks it means.

"Sexts were exchanged," as they say, and then Mr. Voge asked the woman to meet him at a hotel when he was in her town. It appears that she turned him down, and he backed off, and that should have been that. They reportedly never met in person. But the woman started complaining about Mr. Voge's behavior to his law firm, to his personal attorney, and to another law firm. Mr. Voge accused her of stalking him and threatened to have her arrested. He also told her husband that he was sorry about what had happened but told him she would be arrested if she kept this up. Not a threat, but a promise.

This week, after a meeting with his firm's Executive Committee, Mr. Voge resigned, both from his position as head of his law firm, and from the firm entirely.

That's more like it!

Based on what we know, it does not appear that Mr. Voge sexually harassed anybody. It appears that the sexting was consensual, and that he invited the woman to his hotel room only the one time (with some reason to believe his behavior would not be "unwelcome" in light of the sexts). When she said no, he apparently backed off. I'm not even sure that his threats to have her arrested if she didn't quit talking about him were not somewhat justified.

But, as the firm said afterward, his conduct "was not befitting to the leader of the firm." If not for #MeToo, he might still be there.

The commentary I've read seems focused primarily on whether Mr. Voge exploited the woman, but in my opinion, the real victim is the husband, who had asked for Mr. Voge's help in reconciling with his wife only to have Mr. Voge start sexting his wife and inviting her to his hotel room! Not "befitting" at all.

Lies. And chutzpah. Next, we have Nasser Larkem, formerly a Spanish translator with the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Larkem had a second job teaching at the French Institute in Manhattan. He would clock in each morning at his DOE office in Queens, do a little DOE work, and then leave -- while still clocked in at the DOE -- and drive to Manhattan for his teaching job. Then he'd teach, drive back to Queens, and clock out for the day. By this method, he stole 471.5 hours from the DOE, worth $15,540. According to the New York Post, this was "one of the biggest time thefts ever prosecuted by the city's ethics board."

And if the time theft weren't bad enough, the nerve of this guy! After he got caught, he first told a city investigator that his work product was better than that of his co-workers, making it all ok, I guess. Although he initially promised to pay the DOE back, he later reneged and claimed that he had a "flexible work schedule" and refused to admit that he was working at the second job. Then, in September 2017, he sued the DOE for $900,000, claiming that he was a victim of discrimination based on his "linguistic characteristics" and was deprived of due process.

The nerve of this guy!

Well, you'll be happy to know that an administrative law judge has now fined Mr. Larkem $20,000 for his misdeeds. I assume this is in addition to the $15,540 he owes to the DOE.

. . . and crickets. I have to admit that I laughed at this story until I started thinking about how I would feel if the same thing had happened to me. Now I feel bad for laughing. But I'm smiling a little. Daniel Adams, a former employee at the Copper River Grill in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was arrested over the weekend for releasing hundreds of crickets at his former place of employment. While it was open for business and serving customers.

(Not the actual crickets at the Copper River Grill.)

Mr. Adams, who was caught on surveillance tape, said it was all a joke. He's been charged with "malicious tampering with human food." Fortunately for the Copper River Grill, only a few crickets actually made it to the dining area, so no real harm was done. The restaurant has since been treated for pests, and the owner was quoted as saying, "We have no idea what motivated this individual."

Aargh! Now I'm laughing again. I'm sorry!

Image Credits: From flickr. Creative Commons license: Church of God sign by Daniel Lobo; Baptist Church sign by Charlie and Kasie Bennett. Anatomical drawing in public domain.

Robin Shea has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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