Book Exchange responds to sexual harassment allegations - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Book Exchange responds to sexual harassment allegations

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source: Facebook post by Sunshine Tucker source: Facebook post by Sunshine Tucker

MISSOULA - Representatives of The Book Exchange have responded to employee allegations of mistreatment and sexual harassment.

Several employees recently spoke to the Missoula Independent, accusing one of the store owners of sexually harassing female employees and another store owner of inappropriately responding by targeting the employees' clothing choices.

Rami and Ian Haddad identify themselves as the sons of the store owners, Nabil and Rebecca Haddad. In a statement provided to ABC FOX Montana, they say:

This statement is from Rami and Ian Haddad, Vice Presidents of Northwest Book Exchange, Inc., Senior Associate Managers of The Book Exchange and sole inheritors. We are aware that a note our mother wrote on May 21st regarding what she believes should be an appropriate dress code, which was initially posted in the "business journal" we utilize to inform our employees of day-to-day operations, was recently posted on-line. As all of our employees know, we removed that note within less than 18 hours after it was written by our mother. The note was written solely by her while we were both out of town. I, Rami Haddad, called the bookstore to check in, due to the fact I had been out of range of cell service for the past two and a half days. I talked to a manager who said Rebecca had written a note regarding dress code that I should read the next morning once I was at the store. As soon as I read the note the next morning, I conferred with both the manager I had spoken with the night before and my brother. We all agreed that the tone and verbiage of the note was inappropriate and should be removed immediately, which is what we did. I removed it from the business journal less than 18 hours after it was written. The note was removed immediately weeks ago, well before the current public outcry and well before it was first posted online, which was June 5th. To any employees who were offended, we have sincerely apologized and do so again in this response. 

We have also recently become aware of allegations of behavior that could be inappropriate or that may have made others feel uncomfortable. We, as owners, were not made aware of these allegations until recently. I, Rami Haddad first contacted an attorney about the most appropriate manner in which to proceed the last week of May. As of the first week of June, we are hearing of new allegations which we were also previously unaware of. Nabil has strongly denied the allegations. We have a number of high definition security cameras at the business. Because the allegations were made months and years after the alleged incidents, however, we were not able to simply pull the high definition security camera footage from any of the 16 devices to review it. As a result, we are trying to investigate through more traditional means.

We take these matters very seriously. There has been an ongoing investigation, including trying to contact former employees, as well as trying to determine the specific nature of the allegations. Because the allegations are against a family member, we recognize the potential perception that we have a bias. Accordingly, we are having a female non-family member who is a legal professional run an independent investigation. The investigator has been instructed to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation, which will include both former and current employees. We must first attempt to ascertain the facts before we determine what actions may be needed. 

There have also been allegations in the press that a former manager was discharged in retaliation for reporting the aforementioned allegations. This is factually inaccurate and simply not true. If the former manager making these allegations is willing to sign an Employee Privacy Waiver agreeing we can discuss the details (and also provide the related evidence to you), we would be happy to share the true facts with you relative to that former employee. For now, all we can say is that the evidence will not support the allegations he is making.

We want our employees, customers, and everyone involved with us to feel safe and comfortable. We, as the managers and day-to-day operators of the business, are 100% committed to providing a positive business environment for both our employees and our customers. The mere allegation that anything is happening in our store that makes others uncomfortable in any way has disturbed us greatly. We also want everyone to know that we will not tolerate inappropriate behavior in any form. After the independent investigation has concluded, we will take the appropriate steps necessary to remedy any and all problems that may be discovered. We thank everyone for bringing this to our attention and appreciate your patience and understanding while we pursue this in the most professional, legal and moral way we possibly can. 

Rami and Ian Haddad
Vice Presidents, Northwest Book Exchange, Inc.
Senior Associate Managers, dba The Book Exchange

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