The FOOLS of Bow Street Market

The former longtime Assistant General Manager of BOW STREET MARKET made no secret of her opinions regarding some of the employees that she called “BACKSTABBERS,” employees that she warned were “NOT TO BE TRUSTED.” These employees continue to work at the store, blaring like foghorns their inappropriate conversations, while other times whispering their contempt for others in hidden corners of the store. Current managers do not hesitate to call these same employees “OBNOXIOUS, LOUD-MOUTHED BITCHES.” And yet they remain, these fools who are poisoning the workplace, harassing their co-workers, fabricating complaints against others, lying about their own activities, and finding the support of management and the owners. Their childish, furtive actions create unimaginable turmoil, undermine productivity, violate workplace standards, and threaten the jobs of their fellow employees.

Meanwhile, female employees are referred to by management in shockingly vulgar terms like “WHORE” and “SLUT.” Even stranger, the wives of employees are cruelly ridiculed for being overweight. The owners were made aware of these facts and did nothing.

It is in this environment that the owners accuse those who are exhausted and disgusted with this inappropriate atmosphere of creating a “HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT.” A desperate hope to redirect the blame. Yes, it IS a hostile environment, but those who call it that are the ones responsible. It’s only when all hell breaks loose that the owners say “WE WANT NAMES,” trying to force employees into the uncomfortable position of exposing their co-workers. McCarthyism on a local level. Those who escape this dysfunctional environment find themselves threatened further by attorneys attempting to coerce them into silence.

These FOOLS need to accept responsibility, stop accusing others of wrongdoing, and cease obstructing the ability of former employees to find work. Just because a business looks nice and has lovely flowers out front doesn’t mean it’s not a dysfunctional nightmare inside. And just because you like and shop there does not mean these things are not true.

So bring on the high-priced attorneys. Let them earn their keep defending FOOLS. Next time you hear from me will be after I receive some sort of legal threat on official letterhead stationery……

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Bow Street Market, a Hostile Environment

To Adam Nappi, owner of Bow Street Market-

It’s been brought to your attention that your general manager was heard calling a female employee a “slut” and “whore.”

It was brought to your attention that a particular deli employee referred to her co-worker as an “asshole” repeatedly.

It was brought to your attention that this same deli employee also commented publicly that one of your department managers “is castrated and needs to get a set of balls.”

It was brought to your attention that one female employee was freely communicating her “bisexual” preferences to fellow employees.

I’m curious, since you like to accuse others of creating “hostile environments,” going so far as to terminate them wrongfully, what similar steps have you taken to resolve these issues at Bow Street Market? Are the employees in question still on your payroll? Remember, you want to be consistent about these matters.

An Open Letter to Bow Street Market

Dear Adam Nappi (owner of Bow Street Market),

Are you following this Bill Cosby thing? He was the guy everyone loved and trusted for so long. America’s Dad. Seemed like such an amiable fellow, didn’t he? Everyone I knew thought he was such a nice guy. Sort of like what people around here say about you. I was reminded of the creepy similarities between you and Cosby again today when I read that he has filed a lawsuit against his accusers. How odd, this notion of blaming the victim.

Some folks are easy to read. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not. Then there are those who are a little bit more guarded about what they rally are. I often think about what one long time employee of yours once said about you: “He’s a nice guy, but he can be an asshole if he needs to be. Most people don’t know that side.” Almost sounds like an endorsement of someone’s impressive manhood, but in your case it strikes one as evidence of a phony, soft-spoken facade.

When you terminated me in August it came as a relief to be out of your dysfunctional operation. I felt like a thoroughbred with a lame leg, just shoot me. What a breath of fresh air to be out of that nightmare called Bow Street Market. As you’ll recall I was utterly composed, professional, polite, and relieved to move on with my life, even after a clear instance of wrongful termination. Almost immediately you directed your managers to whisper lies about my having created a “hostile environment” as the excuse for the termination, remember? A hostile environment created by employees when the GM calls female employees derogatory names with your full knowledge? Even with that I still sent you several polite and supportive emails thanking you for the opportunity, wishing you the success, and requesting a short letter of recommendation. You became increasingly hostile towards my requests.

In spite of all the revisionism, dishonesty, and cynical positioning of yourself, these facts remain unchallenged: I worked hard for you, just as many others do, and I got the job done in a way that your general manager said “exceeded expectations.” And I did so in a department that was acknowledged by everyone at Bow Street, yourself included, as the most “dysfunctional and problematic” in the store.  A department staffed with improperly trained, childish, petty minded, and mean-spirited employees empowered to say and do whatever they wished, and doing so without a competent and qualified manager to oversee the situation.  You, your wife Sheila, and your general manager Jim Frey all knew this quite well as it was brought to your attention frequently. You gave only the slightest pretense of concern when you’d say to key employees “we want names!” (ostensibly of the problematic employees). Forget Bill Cosby, look up the tactics of the Third Reich. Or Joseph McCarthy.

The environment at Bow Street is so poisonous that you actually bribe employees to stay after they’ve given you notice of their intent to work in more favorable environments. I don’t have to think about this for a moment to know that I have never seen this anywhere else. I’ve never even heard of an employer having to double any employee’s hourly wage, plus bonuses and vacation time, just to force them to stay where they clearly do not want to be. These are grocery store employees, not Fortune 500 CEOs. How desperate can you be?

For my part, I went through the chain of command, asked for help, and even offered solutions to the problems, going so far as to offer myself available for transfer to another department if that would help.  None of that worked.  As much as I wanted to be away from the unmanageable deli staff, neither you nor anyone else took the matter seriously enough to take any timely and effective action.  Like any other incompetent owner who lacks the courage to take action, you deflected responsibility and redirected the blame, eventually shooting the messenger.  A classic coward’s play.

Then, amazingly, you made matters far worse after terminating me.  I gave you sufficient information and encouraged you to not worsen things, but you gave none of that any consideration either.  You clearly wanted to seem resolute, a firm leader, a good businessman.  You continued to act without the courage or maturity to ask me what the issues were.  Just as you had been too lazy to properly look into the accusations that led to my termination, you listened to absurdly embellished and self-serving accounts of my supposed actions and intentions from immature employees. Then you sought a no-trespass order when all you had to do was inform me of your desire to keep me from patronizing your business (what a real man would do), and finally topped it off by asking your attorney to threaten me with legal recourse.

While it may have been clever, it was also cowardly and unprofessional.  But I get it, the reasons you did all of these things were because you were uncomfortable with my occasional presence in your store knowing you had fabricated the reasons for terminating me.  You couldn’t stand former co-workers going out of their way to greet me enthusiastically when I came in for coffee or groceries, you didn’t like a particular relationship between two employees, and you sure as hell didn’t like me telling off some troublemaking employees who destroy morale.

So now I’m what you would call a “disgruntled” ex-employee who is motivated to never let this matter die.  There are ways to have it go away, but those are actions for you to take, not me.  You created this mess, you can come up with a solution.  Even though I didn’t pursue a Labor Board action because I refuse to draw other employees into the crossfire, what I hope you understand is that this is not going to fade away with time.  If your attorney has been convincing you of that, then he’s misleading you.  With all of the misinformation and blatant lies you’ve spread and allowed to be spread about me, one thing should be evident, I have no patience for hypocrisy, sneakiness, and dishonesty on this scale.

But above all else, I will no longer allow individuals like you to cause me financial injury or denigrate, defame, and mischaracterize me behind my back without a response. You’ve inadvertently stumbled upon Newton’s Third Law of Physics: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

You came up with cynical strategy of using the self-serving motives of some foolish employees to make me look “dangerous” because you wanted to keep me out of the store and had no other reason for doing so. Nor did you have the courage to tell me directly. You were so embarrassed by your decision to terminate someone without cause that you couldn’t even look me in the eye when I’d come in for a cup of coffee. It’s fortunate that you married someone who’s more than willing to wear the pants in the family. That’s a cheap shot, I know, but it feels good saying what so many of your own staff whisper behind your back.

So you can keep hiding behind a thin veneer of respectability, hoping that your long time reputation as a nice guy will help you weather this storm. And maybe it will. Or maybe you’ll just turn out to be the Bill Cosby of Freeport, someone who misled others into thinking he’s a nice guy while juggling his unethical behavior and self-serving rationalizations. You use Bow Street Market like Cosby used quaaludes, drugging folks into submission. You’re pretty good at stopping just short of the line you shouldn’t cross in public. It’s like when you told your general manager, “I don’t care what you do, just don’t get me sued.” Adam Nappi’s First Rule of Management?

I have a very good friend who’s an very well-known attorney in California.  Twenty years ago he was the victim of malpractice at the hands of a local doctor who made a mistake so egregious that it almost cost my friend his life.  As an attorney he had all the resources to ruin this doctor’s life and take his very last cent.  He refused to go that route.  What infuriated him the most was that the doctor refused to take responsibility for his mistake, denying he was in the wrong.  My friend didn’t need money, the only thing he wanted was a formal apology, on the record.  That was all.  An apology.

Why did I tell you that story?  You’re a big boy, you’ll figure it out. For all your cynical attempts to involve law enforcement and attorneys and create mass hysteria among those on your payroll, sometimes the simplest solution is staring directly at you like the heads on Easter Island. You can be a man and do the right thing, or you can get your $300 an hour attorney to come after me and make my point for me. Your call.

Interesting responses…

By the way, the comments on this post have been fascinating.

“Sounds like you’re just a disgruntled ex-employee fired for not doing their job.  The customers who shop there will probably never see these comments.”

Oh really?  Well, make no mistake, I AM a disgruntled ex-employee, but the definition of disgruntled is “displeased,” not “dishonest.”  Why would anyone working at Bow Street Market or any other business tolerate the bullshit the owners, Adam and Sheila Nappi, allow in their business, let alone not be unhappy about it?

And I wasn’t “fired for not doing my job.”  Quite the contrary. Management repeatedly commented on the growth numbers of the department I was asked to create and oversee, the highest percentage growth of any department in the store.

I also don’t care what customers see this post.  The people who matter already have.   Bow Street Market’s owners, the aforementioned Nappis, and their General Manager Jim Frey should lose sleep over it.  They deserve to.

They know damned well who I am and can’t stop the response to their actions, actions which now include illegal activity by someone very likely in their employ.

Bow Street Market

What is with Bow Street Market? Do you shop there? A nice looking place, isn’t it? Feel free to continue shopping there.

HOWEVER

– Bow Street Market’s General Manager has been witnessed calling female employees “whore” and “slut”…to their faces. Other senior managers have confirmed their awareness of the General Manager’s sexually harassing comments, one of them saying that “they can never fire me for sexual harassment with all the things he (the store manager) has said.” This general manger is still there, with the owners’ approval.

– One employee was singled out for termination, even as Bow Street Market’s upper management admitted on two occasions that complaints against that employee were “inconclusive,” “unsubstantiated,” and “vengeful.” That employee complained of a campaign of verbal and emotional harassment and inappropriate behavior from two co-workers. He informed his supervisors of the subtle and escalating harassment, bullying, and false accusations that poisoned the workplace. He complained that he was called “an asshole” by one of the co-workers who was previously reprimanded for her behavior. No action was taken by management against the offending employee. The employee was pressured into silence and was eventually the only one terminated, even though he provided evidence of his claims against fellow employees obstructing his ability to work undisturbed. That employee personally asked for assistance from management, verbally as well as in writing, on numerous occasions and complained of a “hostile environment” only to have it said of him by the owners and management when he was terminated for being frustrated with the situation. A “hostile environment,” as determined by a company that tolerates female employees being called sexually derogatory names by a senior manager?

– Employees air their opinions regarding religion, politics, and sexual preferences in front of customers and co-workers who complain about the uncomfortable conditions at work. No substantial action is taken by upper management and the inappropriate dialogue continued unabated, disrupting the ability of other employees to work in peace. Those loudmouthed employees are still there.

– The interpersonal work relationships are left to employees to handle on their own, often leading to unpleasant dynamics in the workplace. Supervisors do not follow up on requests for assistance, allowing the disharmony between employees to continue. Hourly employees publicly criticize management and one female employee repeatedly made disparaging remarks about one male manager’s “lack of manhood,” saying “he should get some balls.” Current employees at Bow Street Market are threatened and forbidden from talking to former employees who have this information.

Employees term the work environment “unworkable” and far worse. Those who have worked at Bow Street Market for over 30 years make far less than those hired after them because they have never thought to ask for a raise. In some instances these long-time employees have not received pay increases in years, receiving considerably lower wages than local industry standards. Employees complain that the pay structure is “incomprehensible” and “arbitrary.” According to one senior employee who told the owner that similar companies in the area “pay a lot more” and offer such basic benefits as employee discounts, “she (the owner) got angry and said that’s bullshit.” However, one of the butchers accepted a similar meat-cutting position for 6 dollars more per hour elsewhere and
another butcher was heavily pressured and eventually paid much more to stay after he was hired at a competitor’s business. His department manager joked that “we would never let him leave, we’ll bribe him if we have to.” Another department manager joked that he “should give notice just to get a raise.” The owners of Bow Street Market run a private business and can operate as they wish, but their policies are unfair to all of their employees across the board, arbitrarily compensating employees as they wish.

– At least two employees quit on the spot during the last year, both of them “storming out” (in the general manager’s words) of the store after verbally accusing upper management of “dishonesty.”  This same general manager joked that one of these employees was “probably stressed out” because he had a very overweight wife (“Have you seen her?  Wow.  Doesn’t mean he should take it out on us,” he joked…haha, funny stuff).  The manager made additional insulting comments about the employee’s wife, using more insulting terms referring to her weight. Remember, this general manager and the owners accused others of creating a “hostile environment.” Additionally, this manager was also caught in the dishonest conversations that forced the other employee to “storm out.”

– Bow Street Market employees who increase the company’s profits are refused a basic letter of recommendation when they leave to help them find work elsewhere. One employee was eventually given such a letter, but only after being coerced into signing an agreement and paid off to not “disparage” or “criticize” the company after they leave. Even after such agreements are signed in good faith, the owners and managers of Bow Street Market continue to thwart them from finding other employment in the area.

The owners of Bow Street Market have retained a high-priced Portland attorney to quash this information and prohibit those who threaten to make it it public. They have even gone so far as to seek a no trespassing order against the former employee simply because he expressed his views. Additionally, their attorney offered $100 — one hundred dollars — to ensure that these details remain unknown. Unfortunately, these details are actually against the law. Any attorney threatening an individual who has first hand knowledge of such workplace conduct would therefore appear to be condoning violations of state and federal labor practices. While that may be defensible in the eyes of the law and enforceable in court, public opinion always questions such tactics that are the equivalent of silencing whistle-blowers. The employee has now repaid the money to the store and revoked the agreement to remain quiet.

As for offering payment to former employees to ensure that they not “disparage” or “criticize” Bow Street Market, that’s a matter of semantics. “Disparage,” legally speaking, implies “relating
falsehoods with the intent to damage a business financially.”

1. Nothing written here is untrue. All of it is supported by evidence and substantiated by others who could lose their jobs if called to testify.  Either that, or lie out of fear.
2. This is not a call to boycott Bow Street Market. This is an attempt to set the record straight against those who are wielding their powerful advantage and local reputation by going to great lengths to suppress information that they want to remain secret. There’s little choice when a
company is so aggressive in defending it’s public face and redirecting blame.

As for “criticizing” Bow Street Market, these are simply facts presented without unnecessary commentary.  The commentary you hear is that which is playing in your head as you read this.  Make your own decisions. Just because things sound unpleasant doesn’t mean they’re criticisms. Saying that someone burned the toast doesn’t mean you criticized them for it. Some folks like burned toast.  We don’t mean to sound disapproving, but the facts are the facts.  Perhaps this is how all such
companies operate.  Perhaps Whole Foods or LL Bean have similar policies and managers who call female employees derogatory terms are kept on payroll even after ownership is made aware of their comments.  If so, then there is no shame here. It’s just a former employee saying this is how it is at Bow Street as well. Big deal.  So why the attorney?

As for this letter, that aforementioned attorney in Portland has threatened to pursue legal action against Bow Street Market’s former employee for bringing this all to light, the same amount of effort it would require to address the issues at hand. An attorney who makes around $300 an hour (a fine Phillips Exeter grad who almost certainly has no concept of what it means to be unemployed), hired by a company that grossed 16 million last year (according to the store manager), intimidating and threatening an unemployed former employee (a father of two young children) terminated under circumstances that others have deemed “questionable.” Defending against this legal onslaught would mean calling current employees for corroboration and needlessly placing them in difficult situations with their present employer.

Again, these are not criticisms, per se, just facts. We hope this company, its managers, and its owners take some responsibility for the mess on their hands.