Pamela Johnston is one of the hardest-working, innovative, and successful public relations executives in America. After years of working with Fortune 100 companies and some of America’s largest brand names, she joined Electrum Partners in 2016 as Senior Vice President, a Nevada-based company that specializes in “advisory services for the medical and recreational cannabis industry”.

Then, shortly after being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, Johnston alleges that Electrum’s CEO, Leslie Bocskor, fired her as a result of the diagnosis, and because Johnston had blown the whistle on alleged sexual misconduct within Electrum.

According to a lawsuit filed on October 12 against Bocskor and Electrum, Johnston alleges that Bocskor has not only reneged on compensation agreements, but has been scrambling to find reasons to justify her termination –after learning that firing her because of her diagnosis was in violation of New York City’s Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Leslie Bocksor

Background

According to Johnston’s lawsuit, two sets of individuals inside Electrum were engaged in romantic relationships. The first set involved one of the firm’s managing members, who was having an affair with a subordinate, posing a risk to the company. The second involved a male executive and an administrative assistant. Johnston brought both of these to Bocskor’s attention who, according to the lawsuit, did nothing.

Johnston also informed the head of Human Resources but alleges the HR staffer did nothing – because she is the lover of the mother of the offending male executive.

“Office romance — more specifically, office sex – brings with it a host of liabilities that companies need to take seriously,” Johnston says. “Pulling a ‘Harvey Weinstein’ when those in charge look the other way, has hopefully come to an end. I saw something, so I said something.”

Johnston’s whistleblowing apparently didn’t sit well with Electrum’s managing members.

When she informed Electrum of her diagnosis in June, Johnston alleges that Bocskor engaged in a series of actions that violated the NYCHRL, including firing her.

Even worse, she says Bocskor reneged on an offer to loan her money and to get her difficult-to-obtain cannabis-based oil used in cancer treatments via overnight mail, and stopped paying her salary guaranteed by her employment contract.

Johnston told TownHall that this past March, Bocskor confirmed that her equity position in Electrum had vested, which Johnston says is now worth $500,000. “Yet, while acknowledging that they owe me money, they refuse to pay what they agree they owe, despite knowing I am a single mother with stage four metastatic cancer and a dependent child.”

Pamela Johnston

Yet Bocskor and Electrum’s alleged egregious behavior doesn’t end there. The lawsuit also alleges that the firm attempted to justify Johnston’s firing by conducting an audit of her expenses – despite those expenses having already been approved – in a process that took sixty days.

Poor Optics

The cannabis industry remains controversial. Some doubt has been cast on its medicinal efficacy, yet the industry has nonetheless made significant progress towards widespread acceptance. Its powerful lobby has resulted in its legalization for medical use in 29 states and Washington D.C., while eight states have approved its recreational use.

Bocskor’s alleged behavior seems particularly foolish, coming at a time when women’s treatment in the workplace by grabby male executives is in the spotlight; in the middle of the National Football League’s Pink October/Breast Cancer Awareness Month; and given the horrendous optics that his alleged treatment of Johnston creates for the cannabis industry.

“In my opinion, as a 25-year PR veteran, Bocskor is destroying the cannabis industry’s momentum with this behavior. It already has the uphill challenge of being accepted by the mainstream, including making banks comfortable with reputational risk,” Johnston says. “People are already calling me to say that cannabis must be a joke as a medicine, if my cannabis industry employer wouldn’t even give me the products or time he promised to try to save my life.”

Johnston is determined to see that she and her child are properly compensated – not only for what she is due, but for damages awarded under the NYCHRL. She has instructed her attorney to continue litigating even if she should die before the case concludes.

“It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If I can raise the profile of those suffering from the disease by fighting back against those who would take advantage of us, what better awareness is there?”

So what’s the story here, Mr. Bocskor? BloggerNews would like to hear how you justify this kind of behavior.

Be Sociable, Share!