Bowler CEO Tom Shannon on Wednesday called discrimination claims against the fast-growing bowling alley operator “absurd” but acknowledged that a federal investigation into the allegations could hurt the stock price.
“These allegations are frankly absurd. They don’t pass the sniff test. They don’t pass any common sense,” Shannon said on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer.”
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proposed in January to settle its sprawling investigation into age discrimination and retaliation claims against Bowler for $60 million. CNBC reported this last month. Settlement talks broke down in April and the case is being referred to the EEOC’s general counsel “for possible enforcement action,” according to a letter sent by the agency.
Shannon said Wednesday that he did not think any potential action against Bowler, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling alleys, “would be in any way significant to the company.” But he admitted that the investigation may have contributed to recent struggles for the company’s shares, which have fallen more than 7% in the past month, largely due to the company’s underwhelming comments about foot traffic during her earnings for the past month.
“Could [the investigation] is it pushing stocks down?” Cramer asked Shannon on Wednesday.
“I mean, I mean,” he said.
“Look, we’ve never been hit with a lawsuit. We’ve never been hit with anything, you know, in terms of evidentiary findings or anything like that,” Shannon added.
Bowlmor AMF President and CEO Tom Shannon attends Shay Mitchell hosting the Bowlero Playa Del Rey Grand Opening on May 25, 2016 in Playa del Rey, California.
Jerod Harris | Getty Images
The EEOC’s investigation into Bowler includes allegations from at least 73 former employees who say they were fired based on age or in retaliation. corporate submissions with the Securities and Exchange Commission parade.
The agency’s proposed settlement is not public. Attorney Daniel Dowe, who represents more than 70 former employees who filed claims against Bowler with the EEOC, told CNBC.
Asked by Cramer if the EEOC had released information about the settlement, Shannon said he believed the plaintiffs’ attorney released the information “along with an accomplice journalist” to CNBC.com.
CNBC said it stood by the Bowler report.
“Our story about Bowler went through a rigorous review process,” a CNBC spokesperson said in a statement.