Unique: 5 Girls Sue Monster Power Over Abusive, Discriminatory Tradition

LOS ANGELES ― At the same time as he awaits a felony trial for allegedly strangling his girlfriend throughout a enterprise journey in 2016, Brent Hamilton continues to be the pinnacle of music advertising at Monster Power, the multibillion-dollar beverage firm partly owned by Coca-Cola.

John Kenneally is a vp at Monster regardless of three ladies accusing him of bullying, harassment and retaliation. They are saying he actively undermined their reputations and compelled them out of the corporate. HuffPost obtained textual content messages he despatched to one in all these ladies, during which he described her as a “whore,” made a racially charged remark about “black dicks,” and used the time period “bitch” to seek advice from each her and one other feminine worker. 

One other supervisor, Phillip Deitrich, commonly humiliated a feminine subordinate in entrance of comrades and sabotaged her capability to work successfully, based on a intercourse discrimination lawsuit she filed. He nonetheless has a job. She left the corporate.

Hamilton, Kenneally and Deitrich are on the heart of 4 lawsuits that girls filed in opposition to Monster final yr. Hamilton stands accused of assault, and the three lawsuits involving the opposite two males are about sexual discrimination, HuffPost has discovered.

A fifth lawsuit, filed in 2016 by a lady who labored within the firm’s human useful resource division, alleges she skilled harassment that was enabled by the corporate’s feminine former head of HR.

HuffPost interviewed all 5 ladies who’ve sued the corporate, which is finest recognized for its extremely caffeinated vitality drink. A sixth lady, a former worker who says she was additionally mistreated, declined to go on the file as a result of she needs to guard her privateness.   

The ladies’s lawsuits and private tales paint an in depth and disturbing image of what systemic intercourse discrimination does to ladies’s lives and careers. Girls at Monster allege that they had been punished for talking up, saying their skilled reputations had been tarnished and careers derailed. Egregious conduct by primarily male executives went with out consequence.

At a time when there’s a lot hand-wringing over the potential of the #MeToo motion to destroy males’s careers, these instances are a robust reminder that girls’s livelihoods are so usually on the line when discrimination is allowed to fester.

Monster argued that these instances are with out advantage and had nothing to do with intercourse discrimination, and characterised the ladies who filed the fits as “disgruntled workers.” 

“The one connection is that these people suing Monster for cash have endeavored to band collectively to litigate their instances within the media,” the corporate mentioned in a 600-word assertion despatched to HuffPost. “The instances are numerous, unrelated and don’t remotely counsel a systemic atmosphere of harassment or discrimination.”

Nevertheless, the corporate additionally mentioned its investigation into the instances is ongoing and that it has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and discrimination. Claims are taken “extraordinarily critically” and the corporate takes motion if it finds wrongdoing, the assertion mentioned.

Coca-Cola, which owns an 18.1 p.c stake in Monster, advised HuffPost that it was unaware of those instances.

Coke’s ignorance on the topic is a “dereliction of responsibility,” mentioned Liz Stapp, a lawyer and professor on the College of Colorado’s Leeds Faculty of Enterprise who works with firms on their codes of conduct. She identified that two Coke executives sit on Monster’s board and that the corporate ought to be aware of any dangers to its enterprise.

Kenneally, who is called in two lawsuits, was placed on paid depart after HuffPost reached out to Monster final week. The corporate claimed the choice was unrelated to this story, however declined to elaborate, citing privateness considerations.

It’s a guys membership and you’ve got to have the ability to hold. You need to put up with some issues.
Jamie Leigh Hogan, a former regional supervisor for Monster

Monster is making ready to tug a curtain of secrecy round nearly all of those lawsuits. Like most firms, it requires workers to settle disputes in arbitration, or non-public courtrooms exterior the justice system the place victims sometimes haven’t any authorized proper to enchantment.  

“You’ll by no means see the rest about these instances as a result of they’re in secret company court docket,” mentioned Nancy Erika Smith, the lawyer who represented former Fox Information host Gretchen Carlson in her intercourse harassment case in opposition to community chairman Roger Ailes. “They don’t seem to be going to see justice. I say that firmly.”

‘This man is like Prince Charming’

The love affair between Hamilton and Sara Rabuse, a 37-year-old make-up artist, ended violently in a Nashville, Tennessee, resort room in 2016.  

Each had been on the town from Los Angeles for the Nation Music Awards. Hamilton, 46, was there for work; one of many nominees was sponsored by Monster. However neither of them made it to the occasion. Hamilton was arrested, and Rabuse was hospitalized after a resort visitor discovered her crumpled on the ground of their room.

They fought, Rabuse mentioned. Hamilton was drunk and assaulted her, based on the lawsuit she has filed in opposition to him. 

Rabuse had purple marks round her neck from Hamilton making an attempt to strangle her, based on the police report. Her thumb was bloody from the place Hamilton bit her. Her nails had been damaged from preventing him off. Hamilton had pulled her hair so onerous that clumps had been yanked out, she mentioned. 

Rabuse recalled her relationship with Hamilton one sunny December afternoon in Los Angeles. Her canine, a tiny llahsa apso named Wicket, sat by her facet in her make-up studio, a enterprise she launched right here practically two years in the past ― the end result of her lifelong ambition to dwell and work close to the Sundown Strip, on the heart of LA’s rock scene.

She first met Hamilton simply down the block on the Rainbow, a legendary hang-out for musicians, in the summertime of 2016. They attended Monster-sponsored rock live shows and music festivals ― Weapons N’ Roses exhibits, OzzFest, Hair Nation. Hamilton impressed Rabuse on their second date by paying round $5,000 to purchase her a bit of artwork she admired.  

“I assumed, ‘This man is like Prince Charming,’” she mentioned, perched on a black leather-based sofa under the print Hamilton purchased her, a playful piece depicting Queen Elizabeth blowing a bubble. “I fell in love.”

Hamilton employed Rabuse to do make-up for a Monster-sponsored occasion. There’s nonetheless a present from Hamilton in her studio: a Monster-branded fridge stocked with the corporate’s vitality drinks ― all with names like Rehab, Extremely and Zero ― and sporting the model’s claw-shaped fluorescent yellow brand.

Rabuse was so smitten, she ignored any purple flags. She mentioned Hamilton would berate her when he was drunk, calling her a “bitch” and a “whore,” or telling her she was “low cost” and “value nothing.” 

He bought bodily greater than as soon as, she mentioned. He dragged her by her toes out of a resort mattress in San Diego after a live performance. On an airplane experience residence from a competition in Sacramento, he mentioned, “Oh, I simply wish to choke you,” and put his fingers round her neck, Rabuse mentioned. She mentioned he was ostensibly joking, “but it surely was creepy.”

However he promised to cease consuming. And he did, for 2 months. She stayed with him.

The “playful” choke is very ominous given what got here subsequent: that terrible night time in Nashville.

Hamilton is scheduled to seem in court docket for a jury trial in Tennessee this summer time over felony expenses of aggravated assault.

Rabuse has filed a separate civil go well with in opposition to Hamilton and Monster Beverage in California state court docket, claiming negligence, battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional misery.

Hamilton nonetheless has his job. As the pinnacle of music advertising for Monster, an organization that sponsors rock live shows, NASCAR races, combined martial arts fights and numerous excessive sport occasions, Hamilton’s job contains lots of late-night exhibits and partying with shoppers that’s largely paid for by the company.

His Fb web page ― which he deleted after HuffPost contacted him for this story, then reinstated just a few days later, after which deleted once more just a few days after that ― is dotted with photographs of him partying: There he’s within the VIP suite on the Grammy Awards final yr with Skrillex, there he’s posing with the band Anthrax.

Hamilton didn’t reply to HuffPost’s requests for remark.  

Monster characterised the incident as a personal dispute.

“There’s nothing in Mr. Hamilton’s employment historical past with Monster, or in any other case, that may have steered he has a violent or abusive historical past or that he and his ex-girlfriend would have gotten into a personal home dispute as alleged,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement despatched to HuffPost. 

Monster males ― and ladies

Monster is an organization run practically solely by males who’re advertising a product nearly solely to males.

The highest 4 executives on the firm are males, together with its co-founders, chief govt Rodney Sacks and president Hilton Schlosberg. There’s only one lady on Monster’s 10-person board of administrators: Coca-Cola govt Kathy Waller, who was appointed in 2015.

The ladies sometimes related to Monster will not be executives. They’re scantily clad fashions ― the “Monster Women” ― employed to advertise its drinks. These ladies are recognized solely by their first names on Monster’s web site, in a bit titled “Women” that’s sandwiched between content material about “Gaming” and “Promotions.”

“Being a lady inside Monster is uncommon,” mentioned Jamie Leigh Hogan, a former regional supervisor for the corporate understanding of Dallas, Texas. “It’s a guys membership and you’ve got to have the ability to hold. You need to put up with some issues.”

Hogan, 37, labored within the beverage trade for eight years earlier than becoming a member of Monster in 2011. Her earlier job concerned advertising drinks in bars and eating places the place she usually encountered informal sexism, she mentioned. However nothing she couldn’t deal with.

The hostility she confronted at Monster was on an entire new degree, she mentioned.

Hogan’s tenure at Monster began off nicely: She bought good evaluations from her supervisor and advantage raises, based on the discrimination lawsuit she filed final yr.

The whole lot modified, nevertheless, when she was transferred to Deitrich’s staff following an organization restructuring in 2015. 

Deitrich, 51, had it out for Hogan from the beginning, she advised HuffPost. He would second-guess Hogan’s each determination, based on the go well with. When she introduced information at conferences, he’d publicly problem any studies or info in entrance of her friends. He referred to as her a “poor excuse of an worker” at a gross sales assembly in entrance of others, based on the go well with.

Most discomfiting, he’d fly into her gross sales territory ― unannounced ― and take conferences with out her, the go well with alleges. That’s uncommon.

“You wish to appear like a united entrance,” she mentioned. “He’d are available in and attempt to see if I used to be doing something fallacious.”

The lads on Deitrich’s staff got inventory choices, however Hogan was not, based on the lawsuit. Hogan additionally alleges she was paid lower than her male counterparts.

Hogan initially tried to inform herself she wasn’t being handled that manner due to intercourse discrimination. “Possibly I’m overreacting,” Hogan mentioned she recalled pondering.

Then Deitrich began holding impromptu staff conferences with out telling her, the lawsuit claims, and reprimanding her for lacking them. 

This went on for about three months, till Hogan reached a breaking level. She was having hassle sleeping and felt depressed and anxious. Her physician really helpful taking time without work.

Hogan met with human assets and advised them what was occurring, and what her physician really helpful. The corporate accredited a medical depart of absence.

“They had been very sympathetic,” she mentioned. However when she returned to work a month and a half later, Deitrich was nonetheless her boss. Nothing had modified.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she mentioned. The timing wasn’t best, as a result of she needed to stroll away from her year-end bonus, however she discovered a brand new job. Now she’s doing model growth for a small firm, nonetheless incomes lower than she did when she left Monster.

Hogan filed go well with in opposition to the beverage firm in federal court docket in Texas in August, claiming intercourse discrimination and a hostile work atmosphere.

HuffPost requested Monster if it had investigated Hogan’s claims or taken any motion to self-discipline Deitrich. The corporate didn’t provide a proof, saying in an announcement that Hogan’s lawsuit was about an alleged “battle along with her former supervisor relating to the work she was given and her compensation.”

Deitrich didn’t return an email or name from HuffPost.

‘It by no means dawned on me that they’d shield him’

Mary Frances “Fran” Pulizzi by no means thought she’d be preventing Monster in court docket.

“I had a stellar popularity,” Pulizzi, 43, advised HuffPost. “I liked my job.”

Pulizzi began with the corporate in 2011 as an administrative assistant and had labored her manner as much as enterprise growth supervisor by the next yr.

Then, within the fall of 2013, she bought a brand new boss: Kenneally, 60, who heads up beverage gross sales on the East Coast.

Nobody would take my calls or speak to me. It was scary, the affect he had.
Mary Frances “Fran” Pulizzi, a few Monster vp

Kenneally was principally the boss from hell, Pulizzi mentioned. He usually gossiped about feminine co-workers and speculated about their intercourse lives, she mentioned. Throughout one explicit dialog he referred to as a feminine subordinate a “whore,” Pulizzi mentioned. He had a mood, and was recognized to pound his fists on his desk in anger.  

However Pulizzi put up with it, based on the grievance. She saved her head down, regardless that he made her life depressing. Ultimately she discovered a manner out. She lobbied for, and landed, a brand new position within the firm.

The whole lot modified after HR referred to as her in the summertime of 2014. The division was investigating discrimination claims in opposition to Kenneally by the lady Pulizzi had heard him name a “whore.” The HR rep requested Pulizzi about her personal working relationship with Kenneally, and advised her no matter she mentioned can be in strict confidence. “I trusted her,” Pulizzi advised HuffPost. So she advised them every little thing.

And based on the lawsuit Pulizzi filed in April 2017, Monster saved nothing confidential. Kenneally retaliated in opposition to her, Pulizzi alleges, making it practically unattainable for her do her job. He advised his colleagues on the firm that Pulizzi had “tattled” on him and badmouthed her, she mentioned.

“He advised individuals I labored as a barista at Starbucks as an alternative of doing my job full-time,” Pulizzi mentioned, including that Kenneally unfold a rumor that she was having cash issues and in addition labored as a babysitter. This rumor-mongering led to Pulizzi receiving her first poor efficiency assessment, she mentioned.

“Nobody would take my calls or speak to me,” Pulizzi mentioned. “It was scary, the affect he had.” 

Monster’s human useful resource division, which basically created Pulizzi’s nightmare state of affairs, proved to be no assist. They advised her to attempt to work it out with Kenneally. When Pulizzi mentioned she wished to file a proper grievance in opposition to him, she was advised to sleep on it, she mentioned.  

In the end, Pulizzi realized that the corporate merely was not on her facet. After taking a medical depart of absence for nervousness, she tried to take one more new position at Monster, separate from Kenneally, however was advised that wasn’t doable.

“I assumed it was an excellent firm for a very long time,” Pulizzi mentioned, including that she initially thought the issue was simply Kenneally. Now she thinks it goes deeper.

“It by no means dawned on me that they’d shield him,” she mentioned. 

Monster seems to have taken no motion in opposition to Kenneally till only in the near past. After HuffPost inquired about him in early January, the corporate put him on paid depart pending the outcomes of an inside investigation. 

The corporate declined to offer extra element, however mentioned in an announcement that Pulizzi’s complaints of retaliation are coming solely after she left the corporate and stem from receiving a poor efficiency analysis. Monster mentioned it had investigated her complaints and located them to be with out advantage.

‘It made me really feel nugatory’ 

The ladies who spoke with HuffPost described HR as a landmine, more likely to take a foul state of affairs and blow it up. Accusers had been advised their conversations can be saved confidential ― solely to search out out that their supervisors had been advised every little thing.

Sarah Lozano would know. She labored within the HR division at Monster from 2013 to 2015. As a go-between for executives and HR, she helped handle worker relations, sometimes dealing with lots of paperwork, in addition to recruitment and minor points like worker tardiness and infrequently bigger personnel issues, together with terminations. 

Worker complaints about executives had been dealt with with child gloves, Lozano mentioned. HR would take the manager apart for an informal assembly to strive to determine what the issue was with the accuser. 

“If somebody was higher-up, you’d have a dialog over dinner and drinks,” Lozano mentioned.

Everybody else bought fairly customary remedy, Lozano mentioned. The disciplinary course of was routine if there was an issue with a lower-level employee ― a “completely totally different mentality,” she mentioned.   

Sitting at a desk in a Starbucks in Corona, California, close to Monster’s headquarters, Lozano, an outgoing, pleasant 31-year-old, described how hopeful she was when she bought the gig at Monster. It was her first salaried job, and she or he had massive ambitions to achieve the manager degree ― if not at Monster, then at one other firm.

My credibility and my morals and ethics and my historical past of working along with her was fully washed away over this allegation.
Sarah Lozano, a former Monster worker

By the point she left somewhat greater than a yr and a half later, she was being handled for nervousness and melancholy, in addition to a vitamin D deficiency she mentioned she acquired from working too many hours indoors.

The work was grueling and she or he had little time for a social life, she mentioned. Nevertheless it was manageable ― till an incident in 2014.

Christina Seafort, who was the pinnacle of HR on the time, accused Lozano of getting intercourse with a married colleague in a on line casino toilet at a company-related occasion in Las Vegas.

Seafort was not involved with the well-being of Lozano, whose popularity was on the line, Lozano mentioned. She didn’t imagine Lozano’s forceful denial of the incident, based on the civil go well with Lozano later filed. Nor did she appear involved with the tradition of an organization the place gossip was immediately taken as truth.

As a substitute, she blasted Lozano for damaging the division’s popularity and probably ruining one other man’s marriage, Lozano recounted in a deposition in January 2016, in a separate case she filed in opposition to the corporate.

“It made me really feel nugatory,” Lozano mentioned within the deposition. “My credibility and my morals and ethics and my historical past of working along with her was fully washed away over this allegation.”

Lozano then felt like she needed to work twice as onerous to show to Seafort she was a worthy worker and regain her belief.

However issues had been by no means the identical. By the summer time of 2015, Lozano was affected by nervousness and melancholy, and she or he supplied up her resignation. Seafort wound up telling Lozano to depart earlier than her scheduled final day, and mentioned she was fed up along with her worker leaving work to attend a weekly night remedy session, Lozano mentioned. 

Seafort didn’t reply to HuffPost’s makes an attempt to contact her. Amazon, her present employer, declined to remark.

It will be straightforward sufficient to scapegoat Monster’s human assets division for enabling the company tradition to fester. However that may be a mistake, mentioned the College of Colorado’s Stapp. HR simply does what it’s advised, she mentioned. If individuals on the high don’t maintain individuals accountable, there’s little the division can do.

Stapp mentioned a board of administrators have to be concerned to actually change the best way an organization handles harassment. Proper now most boards are ignoring the difficulty solely, she mentioned. If harassment does change into a priority, boards are sometimes extra targeted on the right way to shield an govt’s popularity.

“They see it as an obligation to guard the picture of the CEO and executives,” she mentioned. 

Lozano filed three separate instances in opposition to Monster after she left: one with the state labor board in search of misplaced wages, one other in search of employees’ compensation for medical bills, and a go well with in state court docket for harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination and a hostile work atmosphere.

She had scored a small victory by the next yr, with the California labor board awarding her $56,000 in misplaced wages. Monster appealed and settled with Lozano for $20,000 in 2017.  

Since leaving Monster, Lozano has had a tough time discovering regular employment. She by no means needs a company job once more, she mentioned, regardless of her early ambition to achieve the manager suite.

In an announcement to HuffPost, Monster mentioned Lozano’s go well with was over a disagreement with Seafort, and that gender discrimination was not a difficulty.

“Ms. Lozano resigned from Monster for an additional job alternative and was not terminated. She subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging a dispute along with her supervisor, the feminine head of Human Assets,” the corporate mentioned.  

‘I blamed myself’

The sense of entitlement amongst executives at Monster was apparently so entrenched that Kenneally, the vp described as gossiping about his feminine colleagues’ intercourse lives, felt emboldened to each pursue a sexual relationship with a Monster worker and provides her a promotion to work for him.

Web page Zeringue, a 44-year-old single mom who labored for Monster as a area supervisor in New Orleans, was initially flattered and charmed by Kenneally’s advances, she mentioned. Zeringue knew a romantic relationship along with her boss was a giant danger, however she took the prospect. The preliminary promotion got here with a 16 p.c increase; Kenneally quickly gave Zeringue one other promotion, to senior subject advertising supervisor, which got here with a 14 p.c increase and inventory. 

It was 2014, and Zeringue mentioned she by no means may have predicted how abusive he’d change into. Kenneally was a jealous lover who found out Zeringue’s passwords so he may learn her texts and emails. He privately berated her and at work displayed an explosive mood. His texts, obtained by HuffPost, had been profanity-laced and stuffed with rage and derision.

“You’re so extremely fucking egocentric!!!!!” Kenneally texted her in February 2015. “I want I by no means needed to converse or see you ever once more sadly I do…..”

When she didn’t reply instantly, he wrote two minutes later, “You’re a whore.” He used that very same type of language when speaking to her in particular person, calling her a “cheat,” a “liar” and a “bitch,” based on the lawsuit. In a single textual content change reviewed by HuffPost, he additionally referred to Hogan, who’s now suing Monster for intercourse discrimination, as a “bitch.”

Zeringue tried to name it off, however he talked her out of it and threatened to get her fired, based on the intercourse discrimination lawsuit she filed final yr in federal court docket in Louisiana. She was afraid of doing something that would put her job in danger.  

“I may see the place it was going. I blamed myself. There was a lot disgrace,” she mentioned, including that she nonetheless feels ashamed. “Why did I do that?”

Complicating the state of affairs additional, Zeringue says a married Monster govt harassed her whereas she was relationship Kenneally. He requested her if her “boobs had been actual” and stared at her chest whereas they had been speaking between conferences at a enterprise convention. One other time, that very same govt hugged her tightly and pressed his chest near hers, based on Zeringue’s lawsuit.  

Lastly, in August 2015, itching to do one thing to enhance her state of affairs and too afraid to complain about Kenneally, Zeringue went to human assets concerning the different govt, based on her lawsuit.

Monster HR ordered the manager to take sexual harassment coaching.

Kenneally caught wind of the state of affairs and advised Zeringue she ought to have saved her mouth shut. He warned her she would get a disciplinary write-up from her direct supervisor ― a brand new supervisor, a lady, who’d been positioned between her and Kenneally in a restructuring.

The write-up got here in September 2015, and included a batch of fabricated, illegitimate, imprecise complaints and points, based on the lawsuit. It was the primary time in her seven years at Monster that Zeringue had been disciplined.

“I attempted each technique to get you to take a look at issues otherwise so you wouldn’t get written up or fired and also you mentioned fuck you,” Kenneally texted Zeringue throughout this time. “So now I’m formally performed I don’t give a shit what occurs to you.” (See the total change under.)

The subsequent day, he wrote once more, “I do know far more about you and your promiscuous methods than you’ll ever know…I wager you fucked 50 guys since I’ve been with you.. I don’t give a shit anymore in case you are fucking two black dicks.”

Zeringue was fired just a few weeks later. She was advised her efficiency hadn’t improved.

Greater than two years later, she continues to be unemployed and in search of work.

Kenneally, who was placed on paid depart after HuffPost contacted Monster for this story, didn’t reply to HuffPost’s requests for remark.

“Ms. Zeringue and John Kenneally had been concerned in a consensual romantic relationship,” Monster mentioned in an announcement to HuffPost. “Her separation from the corporate was unrelated to Mr. Kenneally.”

‘They assume they’ll get away with this’

Monster doesn’t look like terribly nervous about these instances, and it appears unlikely that the corporate’s buyers have recognized they existed. 

It’s probably that the corporate doesn’t view these ladies and their lawsuits as threats to the enterprise. Aside from the lawsuit Rabuse filed in opposition to her ex-boyfriend, all of the instances can be tried out of the general public eye in arbitration ― the place the ladies stand little likelihood of successful, based on legal professionals who work on most of these instances.

Even realizing the chances, the 5 ladies are shifting forward. A number of mentioned they had been emboldened by the courageous individuals coming ahead to inform tales of harassment and discrimination as a part of the continuing #MeToo motion.

The ladies HuffPost spoke to need justice. Their objective, they mentioned, is to revive their reputations and to ensure no different ladies at Monster must undergo the identical trauma.

Rabuse mentioned she has misplaced enterprise since that night time in Tennessee. The contacts Hamilton had funneled her manner, and anybody related to him, stopped coming to Outlaw Cosmetics, her West Hollywood make-up studio.

“It’s been an terrible yr,” she mentioned. She usually teared up as she recounted their months-long relationship.

A listening to is scheduled in her civil go well with for February. There, her legal professionals will argue that Monster ought to be held answerable for Hamilton’s assault. The corporate knew about Hamilton’s violent tendencies and that he had a historical past of each alcohol and cocaine abuse, the lawsuit says, but they nonetheless inspired him to social gathering as a way to do his job ― thus endangering Rabuse.

“They assume they’ll get away with this,” Rabuse mentioned, referring to Monster, including she doesn’t need every other lady to expertise what she did. “I need justice.”

Do you may have a narrative about harassment or discrimination that you simply’d wish to share? E mail: emily.peck@huffpost.com

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