Monster Energy, the multi-million dollar, partially Coca-Cola owned energy drink company, is being sued for sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
HuffPost broke the story after interviewing each of the five women suing the company, adding their voices to the flood of stories from all over the world responding to the #metoo movement.
The women’s personal stories reflect not just isolated incidents of abuse committed by outlier individuals, but instead systemic gender-based mistreatment. The women allege that they were punished for speaking up, and feared that doing so might harm their professional reputations and futures. As a result, inappropriate actions by male executives went unaddressed and unpunished within the company.
Coca-Cola, one of Monster’s key stakeholders, claimed deniability when approached by HuffPost, saying they were unaware of any sexual harassment cases before the suit.
But in this case, ignorance may not be bliss. One legal scholar believes Coca-Cola may be subject to “dereliction of duty” charges, pointing out that two of Coke’s executives are part of Monster’s board. Since these members failed to report abuses, the consequences for Coca-Cola may be dire.
Monster’s response to the crisis has been to side with its allegedly abusive executives. In response to the HuffPost piece, Monster’s communications team published a lengthy statement, arguing that the plaintiffs are simply “disgruntled employees” and that the company “has zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct. Nonetheless, the statement also noted that an ongoing internal investigation has been put in place.
It seems that the company has had no problem in the past employing men with records of abuse. Brent Hamilton, the company’s head of music marketing, was already on trial after his girlfriend accused him of strangling her in 2016. It’s a separate case from the sexual harassment and discrimination allegations made by Monster’s five female employees, but its existence doesn’t help Monster’s image or their chances in winning the lawsuit.
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