A major scandal is rocking the publishing industry. Penguin Canada CEO David Davidar, who earlier headed Penguin India, announced his resignation on June 8 saying he wished to return to India and concentrate on writing.
It has now emerged that his exit was due to a $523,000 lawsuit by a former employee in Toronto alleging sexual harassment. Davidar is alleged to have harassed Lisa Rundle, a former rights and contracts director, over the three years and assaulted her at the Frankfurt Book Fair last October.
In her statement, parts of which were reported by Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, she says Davidar appeared at her hotel room door, "wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist".
Rundle is claiming damages of $423,000 from Penguin. She has slapped the suit on the company for wrongful dismissal and the "harsh, vindictive and malicious fashion" with which she was allegedly treated following her complaints against Davidar.
She is also seeking damages of $100,000 against Davidar personally.
Penguin Canda however clarifies that Rundle "was not terminated by Penguin Canada, but rather she told the company of her decision to leave after having declined to pursue other career opportunities within the organisation".
Penguin India officials said they have "nothing further to add" to the Penguin Canada statement regarding Davidar issued on June 11.
Davidar has been a popular figure in India and Delhi.
Zubaan editor and publisher Urvashi Butalia who had attended the Frankfurt Book Fair last year says "she finds it difficult to believe the story".
She said she met Davidar at the fair but had not heard "anything, any rumour" about him and Rundle at the time.