Former Spin Employee Gets $750,000 for Legal Fees
A federal judge in New York awarded $750,000 in legal fees to a former employee of Spin who had sued the popular rock ‘n’ roll magazine in 1994 for sexual harassment.
In making the award, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote criticized former Spin Publisher and founder Bob Guccione Jr. for conducting a hostile work environment for women.
“There were, with rare exceptions, only two routes of advancement within the editorial department: An applicant . . . had to be male or a woman in whom Mr. Guccione or a male supervisor was sexually interested,” Cole said in her order. “The evidence was strong that a clear signal of disinterest in a sexual relationship with Mr. Guccione or his senior male editors shut the door to opportunities in the editorial department.”
Cote awarded $750,000 to the attorneys for 29-year-old Staci Bonner, who won a $90,000 judgment for “hostile work environment sexual harassment” against Guccione and Spin in a Manhattan federal court four months ago.
Guccione, who has complained repeatedly about inaccurate coverage of the case and has denied any improper behavior, could not be reached for comment Monday. He has said he will appeal a portion of the earlier verdict.
Hillary Richard, Bonner’s lawyer, said she is pleased that the court had not only granted her client’s legal fees, but that the judge had set the record straight regarding Guccione’s involvement in sexual favoritism at Spin. “We hope that this ruling lays to rest Bob Guccione’s claims that this trial vindicated him,” Richard said.
The judge called Bonner, a former research editor and writer at Spin, the prevailing party in the case and denied Guccione’s request for payment of legal fees. She ordered Camouflage Associates, the magazine’s former parent company of which Guccione is a partner, to pay Bonner’s legal fees.
Richard said Guccione and Spin, which was purchased last month by Vibe magazine, are responsible for paying the $90,000 judgment to Bonner plus $20,000 more in back pay and liquidated damages under the federal equal-pay act.
The trial included testimony from a parade of witnesses portraying Spin as a place where female employees were sometimes subjected to unwanted touching and locker-room-style comments from male superiors and co-workers. Bonner said she received a crude proposition from one editor-writer and unwanted back rubs from a senior editor. Other former employees backed up her testimony with similar descriptions.
Jurors ruled that Guccione operated a hostile work environment. But the jury rejected Bonner’s claims of sex discrimination in her lack of advancement at Spin, plus intentional infliction of emotional distress and working conditions that forced her to resign.