Bowlero CEO Tom Shannon termed discrimination charges against the fast-growing bowling alley operator “absurd,” but said the federal investigation into such claims may have harmed the company’s stock price.
“These allegations are, to put it mildly, absurd.” They fail the sniff test. Shannon told CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” that they “don’t pass any common sense.”
According to CNBC, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggested settling its extensive investigation into age discrimination and retaliation charges against Bowlero in January for $60 million. The settlement talks fell down in April, and the issue has been forwarded to the EEOC’s general counsel “for potential enforcement action,” according to a letter written by the agency.
Shannon stated on Wednesday that any prospective action taken against Bowlero, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling lanes, would not “be material to the company in any way.” However, he conceded that the investigation might have contributed to the company’s stock’s recent troubles, which have plummeted more than 7% in the last month, owing mostly to the company’s dismal comments about foot traffic during its earnings call last month.
“Could [the investigation] be driving the stock down?” Cramer inquired of Shannon on Wednesday.
“I mean, I suppose,” he explained.
“Look, we’ve never had a lawsuit filed against us. We’ve never had anything in terms of evidence findings or anything like that,” Shannon remarked.
According to business filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the EEOC inquiry against Bowlero contains accusations from at least 73 former workers who believe they were fired based on their age or in retribution.
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The proposed settlement by the agency is not public. It was reported to CNBC by lawyer Daniel Dowe, who represents over 70 former workers who filed EEOC complaints against Bowlero.
When Cramer asked if the EEOC shared the settlement information, Shannon replied the complainants’ attorney put it out there “along with a complicit journalist” at CNBC.com.