Fights over corporate control intensify amid CEO misconduct allegations

While disagreements between a company's board and its executive leadership are common, allegations of sexual misconduct, racial intolerance and bullying have become new weapons in the battle between investors, executives and directors at companies across multiple industries, according to Bloomberg.

Data from crisis consulting firm Temin & Co. and cited by Bloomberg indicates more than 670 high-profile executives and employees have been accused of harassment or other misconduct during the last 21 months. Sixty-seven of those individuals were company founders, and 26 individuals ultimately left their firms, the report states.

"We're talking about things that we wouldn't have talked about 10, 15, 20 years ago in the boardroom," Davia Temin, Temin & Co. founder, told Bloomberg. "We've gone from identifying all of the sexual harassment, to beginning to act upon it and root it out of our organizations. Now we're turning it into a weapon in corporate control fights."

For example, the board of ProLung, a medical technology company specializing in predictive analytics for lung cancer, fired co-founder and CEO Steven Eror after misconduct allegations against him surfaced. Mr. Eror, however, claimed in an email to Bloomberg the allegations against him are baseless and are the result of a "self-serving, sham investigation founded on baseless allegations."

Several high-profile individuals across multiple industries have been affected by such scandals, leading a slew of executives to resign and, in some cases, take action against the company they previously worked for. John Schnatter, founder, chairman and CEO of Papa John's, quit as CEO in December 2017 and resigned as board chairman in July after using a racial slur during a company conference call. More recently, former CBS CEO and board chairman Les Moonves was fired from the organization after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in The New Yorker in two separate reports. Mr. Moonves was also accused of harassment by a Los Angeles-based Keck School of Medicine at USC professor in a May op-ed published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the healthcare space, athenahealth co-founder and CEO Jonathan Bush was the subject of a series of misconduct allegations. He stepped down from his position in June.

To access the report, click here.

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