Respect Your Universe, Inc. / Unethical and Unlawful Behavior
The Oregonian recently ran a story entitled, “New Respect Your Universe leader [Craig Brod, PhD) says he's right for the job.” (by Allan Brettman, Posted May 1, 2013. Right for the JOB?!?!? Read the information below before you encounter Craig Brod, a trained PSYCHOLOGIST, think about working for this company, invest in RYU stock or buy RYU athletic apparel, which Respect Your Universe, Inc. alleges is based on “strength, honor, respect and sustainability”! Very SCARY. What happened to me can happen to YOU!!!
During an interview at Respect Your Universe, Inc., a Portland-based athletic apparel company, I met with the CEO/Director, Craig Brod, and Sales Coordinator, Kristine Cleary. During our first meeting, which included MANY extraneous questions that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the position in which I was applying, I was questioned directly about my religious necklace, specifically what my St. Christopher medal was and what it represented. I was taken ABACK by these types of inappropriate and invasive questions. However, having been a recent victim of domestic violence, having not worked in three months after being hospitalized three times and being a single mom, I was desperate for a job. Looking back, this was exploitation at its finest by a man who seemed to have a GOD complex. The CEO/Director, Craig Brod, PhD, then launched into a lengthy conversation about religion, his Judaic background and that, “Jesus was a good guy, but he wasn't the Son of God.” This statement came as a COMPLETE insult to me, my Roman Catholic beliefs and a conversation that should have NEVER taken place in an interview situation. I should have run for the hills at this point! RED FLAG #1. According to state and federal laws, speaking about religion and/or a person's nationality during an interview, in a harassing or intimidating manner, is AGAINST THE LAW. Much to the chagrin of the sales coordinator, Kristine Cleary, Brod hired me on the spot. She could barely contain her fury for not even being consulted about my hire, which led to …..
… my first day at Respect Your Universe, Inc. I am told to write my own contract and submit it to Brod. I neither receive information that he has even reviewed my contract proposal, nor does he sign it or give me any type of feedback on it. At this point, I begin feeling extreme discomfort about not having a contract or any type of written offer letter in place to protect myself. RED FLAG #2. Brod later told me, this coming after he throws me out of Respect Your Universe, Inc., that he specifically 'held' my contract to see how I performed. Unethical? Check. Inappropriate? Check. Again, I should have ran out of that Company from DAY ONE, however, I was promised a full-time position with benefits, stock options and a bonus. For a single mom who had been unemployed for so long and couldn't even put food on the table for her child, I hoped this Company was going to be my saving grace.
I am then placed in an open room with six other people talking over each other, receive absolutely no training (RED FLAG #3) and am told to write a press release about my being hired. I am given directives by not one or two supervisors, but THREE different people who have VERY different ideas about the Company. The sales coordinator, Kristine Cleary, can barely contain her anger at my presence there and is sitting, waiting and watching me, like a spider. After a mere two hours of being there on my first day, I am questioned by the CEO/Director, “Where is that press release ….?” I am also told there are to be many changes coming down the pike for the Company and the apparel, however, I am not provided any specific information about these changes, the Company's short and long term strategies, or even information about which products would be changing! How could I be expected to write a press release on Day 1 or rewrite the entire Web content in two weeks without even knowing this information?? I was completely and immediately set up for failure.
During lunch with Craig Brod, RYU CEO/Director on my first day of being at RYU, Inc. (I can't even say employment or contract work because I didn't even have a contract!), I am told what a “mess” he has inherited with the company, what a disaster his predecessor, David Campisi was, and specifically how much money Campisi sucked from the Company in the time he was there (approximately nine months). (RED FLAG #4) Brod, who is still a practicing psychologist, speaks specifically about his current patient in Vancouver, WA, and tells me proprietary information about the patient's mental illness and condition, all the while speaking in a highly derogatory manner. I CONSIDER THESE STATEMENTS, WHICH INCLUDE DOCTOR/PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY, TO BE COMPLETELY UNETHICAL – AND, BECAUSE OF HIPAA LAWS, UNLAWFUL. He then asks me, SPECIFICALLY, what medications I am taking and what dosages (!!) I am taking for my anxiety and depression, which is NONE of his business and is a completely unacceptable topic in a business setting.
Here are some other disastrous things the RYU CEO/Director does during my seven day 'tenure' at Respect Your Universe, Inc. (Keep in mind I NEVER even had a signed contract as a 1099 employee there):
1.Brod tells us, in a group employee setting, that the Respect Your Universe Board of Directors are a bunch of people who cannot agree on anything and have many different ideas about how the Company should be run. Wow, what a nice warm, fuzzy feeling to give to employees -- knowing that EVEN the Board of Directors has no idea in what direction RYU is headed!! (RED FLAG #5)
2.As a practicing psychologist, Brod loudly comments, in front of all employees, how his current patient has schizophrenia and that she calls him in the morning, screaming, and that takes all he has not to tell her to “shut up” and how much he wants his coffee before he has to talk to her. Would you want a psychologist like this? Someone who discussed YOUR private information in a PUBLIC company? Would you want Craig Brod to be the CEO/Director of YOUR investment, representing YOUR public company?(RED FLAG #6)
3.On my fifth day at Respect Your Universe, Inc. the CFO tells the entire team he is resigning and his last day at the Company will be on Friday. He says that he's “done everything for the Company that he can do.” He also states that Respect Your Universe, Inc. is “lucky to get the investments that it did and that it won't be given another chance like this” and that the Company “should not even be in business at this point.” (RED FLAG #7)
4.During the review of the press release that the CFO and I wrote about the Company receiving private placement funding, Cleary reads a printed copy of the release and makes the comment, “There's a lot of ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder] going on here, ” because of the usage of an RYU logo that was PROVIDED to me by the Company's CFO. This statement is completely inappropriate, discriminatory and insulting because I DO have ADD and ADHD. As a 'supposed' professional with 16 or 17 years experience at Nike, I am shocked Kristine Cleary's lack of professionalism and Ms. Cleary's outrageous behavior and recklessness! (RED FLAG #8)
5.The Company, with plans to open retail stores in the California market in late 2013, touts that it is based on “strength, honor, respect and sustainability”(RED FLAG #7), however, outsources the manufacturing of its clothing from the USA to countries such as China, Bangladesh as well as other third-world nations. So, therefore, the next time you think about purchasing that piece of RYU athletic apparel that is supposed to be SO unique, SO organic, SO made out of sustainable materials, think about how much honor and respect is being used for the poor, unfortunate people overseas working in HORRIBLE conditions to create this clothing. Think about how Respect Your Universe, Inc., is exploiting ancient Chinese ideologies and symbols to MAKE MONEY off poor people working for pennies on the dollar in foreign countries. HORRENDOUS AND UNETHICAL. (RED FLAG #9)
6.Brod, right in front of employees, loudly and vocally drafts a letter to former CEO/President David Campisi, stating that he wanted the money back that “Campisi” took from the Company. This type of behavior, in front of RYU employees, seems completely immature and unnecessary and instills a strong sense of bullying. If Brod says and does these things to other people – and EVEN INVESTORS and THE RESPECT YOUR UNIVERSE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, what do you think he's saying about YOU?! (RED FLAG #10)
There are many other things that happened during my brief 'stay' at Respect Your Universe, Inc., however, 10 RED FLAGS gives you an idea about this Company and how it operates. Be VERY, VERY careful – whether seeking a job at Respect Your Universe or thinking about investing in this company!! Make sure to do your research!!!
“Strength, honor, respect and sustainability” - GIVE ME A BREAK, Respect Your Universe! - TRY RESPECTING OUR UNIVERSE!!!