Readings — From the February 2014 issue

Archie Enemy

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From a complaint filed last September as part of a $32.5 million gender discrimination lawsuit against Archie Comics co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit. Six employees allege that for more than a decade Silberkleit harassed them and other male staff at the comic-book publishing house.

Archie Comics, through its main characters, Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper, demonstrates a positive relationship, where both are well-intentioned and care deeply for the well-being of others, always ready to help with their problems. The many other characters in Archie Comics present themselves in positive and negative aspects involving all parts of life. Despite this wonderful comic background, there is nothing comical about Defendant. In fact, Defendant has brought sadness not only to those working there but even to visitors to Archie Comics. For example, a young and very sick girl from the Ronald McDonald House, whose hair was falling out, asked for — and was given — a Betty wig by Plaintiffs. When Defendant learned of this generous and kindhearted act, she became enraged and tragically accused this girl of “stealing Betty’s wig.”

The first contact that anyone in Archie Comics had with Defendant occurred when Defendant traveled to Archie Comics, where the late Michael Silberkleit worked at that time. Defendant began screaming and loudly banging on the outside door of Archie Comics Headquarters yelling to Michael Silberkleit (who she believed was present at Archie Comics Headquarters): “Let me in, you son of a bitch, I’m pregnant and you better take responsibility.” Eventually, the late Michael Silberkleit and Defendant were purportedly married.

After the late Michael Silberkleit’s death on March 26, 2009, Defendant executed an Employment Agreement with Archie Comics. Unfortunately, Defendant’s employment became the trigger for outrageous and unreasonable conduct. An Independent Professional in Human Resources was retained twice by Archie Comics to conduct an investigation and determine the facts. Twice, the claims of gender discrimination by Defendant were soundly rejected. This Independent Human Resource Professional found:

Seven of the employees interviewed said they directly heard Nancy use the word “penis” in the office when referring to men. Specifically, Nancy was quoted as stating something to the effect of “look at all the penises in here” when she walked into a meeting in Jon’s office a few months ago. One employee indicated that Nancy interrupted a meeting and pointed to each one of the four men in the meeting and said “penis, penis, penis, penis” and then walked out. Two employees reported Nancy looking at a magazine pitch, pointing to men’s names and referring to each as a “penis.” At another time, while pointing to male employees’ photos in an Archie book, Nancy referred to each as a “penis.” One employee relayed an instance where he heard Nancy say something like, “All you penises think you can run me out.”

This type of behavior was confirmed in this Independent Report by an outside Human Resource Professional:

Employees advised that they heard Nancy state to a freelancer that she needed to adjust her balls because they irritated her. An employee has also heard her say that her balls hurt. An employee reported hearing Nancy say to a new person something like, “Stand up and pull down your pants.”

It was the hope of many that the outrageous conduct of Defendant would cease and desist so Archie Comics could continue when even World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other wars could not stop publication. Unfortunately, war-like activity continued to take place.

Due to Defendant’s increasingly deranged behavior, armed security guards were required to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Archie Comics employees. Defendant has posed a real-life concern to Plaintiffs, since Defendant’s Husband, upon his death, had 750 rounds of ammunition stored at Archie Comics and Defendant still inquires at work about the location of a missing handgun.

Although Defendant was not to directly contact Plaintiffs, the Defendant solicited an individual to have the “Hell’s Angels” come to Archie Comics in an effort to intimidate Plaintiffs. The foregoing was consistent with when Defendant brought an ex-NFL player (Mr. Howard Jordan) to Archie Comics. Also indicative of Defendant’s abnormal and enigmatic behavior is that various people have observed Defendant enter the Archie Comics office in the still of night, fail to turn the lights on, and remove materials from the office in darkness.

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