I could not believe what I read about David Davidar--that he had been sacked by Penguin Canada over a sexual harassment case. A couple of years back, I had interviewed David when his second novel had come out and had also met him during a lit fest in Singapore. It was difficult to believe that a man of his stature would do what has been alleged against him by one of his former employees. The allegations and the lawsuit are disgraceful and it remains to be seen how David fights the charges “vigorously”.
Here's John Barber's story from The Globe and Mail, Canada:
A former employee of Penguin Canada has launched a $523,000 lawsuit alleging that company CEO David Davidar sexually harassed her repeatedly over the past three years, culminating in outright assault at the Frankfurt Book Fair last fall, and that she was fired after complaining to superiors about Davidar’s “twisted treatment” of her.
Lisa Rundle of Toronto, former director of digital publishing and foreign rights for Penguin Canada, is claiming damages of $423,000 from Penguin for wrongful dismissal and the “harsh, vindictive and malicious fashion” with which it allegedly treated her following her complaints against Mr. Davidar. She is also seeking damages of $100,000 against Mr. Davidar personally.
The allegations were made in a statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on June 9, the day after Penguin Group chairman John Makinson and Mr. Davidar jointly announced the latter’s decision to leave one of the top jobs in the international company. They have not been proven in court and Mr. Davidar has not yet filed his defence.
In response, the former executive issued a statement Friday afternoon denying the harassment charges – but acknowledging that neither he nor Mr. Makinson had revealed the full story surrounding his departure earlier this week. “At Penguin’s request, I agreed to publicly state that my departure was voluntary,” he wrote. “The truth is that a former colleague accused me of sexual harassment and Penguin terminated my employment.”
Mr. Davidar said he intends to fight the charges “vigorously,” but declined to make further comments.
Here is the Canadian publishing industry reaction on David's departure.