Color sued by co-founder over alleged work violations

Color Labs, part of which is now owned by Apple, is sued by a former co-founding employee over alleged labor violations.

Color Labs app, which will be shelved next month.
Color Labs app, which will be shelved next month. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Color Labs, whose intellectual property and engineering team were purchased by Apple earlier this year, is the target of a new lawsuit from a former founding employee.

Adam Witherspoon, who served as a quality assurance engineer at Color, today filed a suit against the company and its CEO, Bill Nguyen, accusing both of creating "an extremely hostile, unsafe, and harassing atmosphere."

The suit, which was filed in the Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara and spotted by TechCrunch, accuses the company of violating three labor codes, including retaliation for reporting unsafe work conditions, reporting illegal conduct, as well as retaliation in violation of public policy.

The suit also claims Witherspoon was subjected to the intentional infliction of emotional distress from Nguyen, who "routinely humiliated, harassed, ridiculed, exploited, and pushed employees, who departed in droves."

As a result, Witherspoon is seeking damages for alleged humiliation, as well as lost wages and benefits.

CNET has contacted Color for comment on the suit, and will update this post when we know more.

Of note, embedded within the complaint is mention that major parts of Color were, in fact, sold to Apple -- something neither company commented on when news of the sale leaked out earlier this year:

In or around late September 2012, Defendant Nguyen brokered a deal with Apple. In or around late September 2012, Apple representatives visited Color and met with Color's technical team of approximately 20 employees...

...Since every other member of the engineering team was going to be hired by Apple, there was no apparent reason why Plaintiff Witherspoon would be excluded.

As part of the complaint, Witherspoon says Nguyen "intentionally excluded" him from the meeting with Apple. That was after Nguyen allegedly caught wind of Witherspoon's involvement in an investigation into Nguyen's business practices by an outside group.

The whole complaint, which is far more scintillating than the average patent suit, can be read below.

20121119 Complaint All
About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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