[UPDATED with CEO's Response:] Nad's Removed Integrity Along With Hair, Claims Whistleblower Case
UPDATE, SEPT. 9, 11:35 A.M.: Nad's brand of hair-removal products founder Sue Ismiel, who is also CEO of corporate parent Sue Ismiel & Daughters, Inc. (SI&D) of Australia, accuses her former president of U.S. operations in Garden Grove of falsely alleging he was fired due to his "whistle blowing" against the company and that he is spreading "meritless claims" about the way SI&D does business in his lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court:
The full statement Ismiel provided to the Weekly this morning follows after the jump . . .
"In response to legal action initiated by SI&D (US) Inc against its former president, Robert Spetner, due to his wrongfully having seized control of the Company's mail, Mr. Spetner has filed a cross-complaint in which he groundlessly and falsely alleges that he was terminated because he had engaged in "whistle blowing" and presented other meritless claims against the Company. SI&D categorically denies these allegations and will defend them vigorously. In point of fact, the Company appropriately terminated him due to poor performance and serious misconduct that directly benefitted him at the expense of the Company and it is our intention to pursue further legal action against Mr. Spetner in this regard.
The substantive issues raised in Mr. Spetner's complaint are riddled with factual errors and outright misrepresentations that stand in stark contrast to our 14-year record of conducting an ethical and successful business in the United States that is founded on providing our customers and retail partners with great products and excellent service. Contrary to the tenor of Mr Spetner's complaint, we are proud to endorse the quality and efficacy of our award-winning range of Nad's depiliatory products that are available at leading retailers throughout the US, Great Britain and Australia/New Zealand.
As this matter is currently the subject of litigation, we have been advised by counsel to limit further public comment on this matter pending its legal resolution."
ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 9, 7:32 A.M.: The former president of the Garden Grove-based U.S. operations for Nad's brand of hair-removal products has filed a whistleblower complaint in Orange County Superior Court alleging he was fired for trying to stop his Australian-based corporate owners from selling defective products.
Robert Spetner, who is seeking damages in excess of $500,000, accuses Sue Ismiel & Daughters, Inc. (SI&D) of wrongful termination, breach of contract, unpaid wages and violating the California Whistleblower Statute.
Spetner's former company stocks hair-removal gels and lotions for men and women at WalMart, Target, CVS, RiteAid, Safeway, K-Mart, Walgreen's and other major chains. In his complaint, Spetner claims to have learned that overseas manufacturers shipped 300,000 defective units of the product to the States. He adds that when he informed the SI&D corporate board of directors in Australia that these batches must be recalled and its retailers and customers must be informed about the compromised product, he was fired.
Court documents have Spetner giving the reason for this: his company was supposedly "fearful that he would reveal honest information regarding the defective product to federal and state consumer protection agencies, in addition to prestigious retailers and consumers." Those fears were well founded as Spetner did just that, according to his Newport Beach attorney, Russell J. Thomas, Jr.
"This is a classic example of an employer retaliating against a whistleblower," says Thomas. "His employer, SI&D, was willing to sacrifice a hard-working, successful operations president in order to cover up its deceitful practices in the marketplace."
The complaint claims Spetner was told retailers and customers would be "better off" not knowing the purchased products were flawed. He would have to, in effect, burn a loyal customer base he'd nurtured since being hired in 2008, his complaint alleges. He accuses the company of profiteering by failing to implement an expensive recall after discovering faulty batches of the product in 2010 and again this year.
Legend has it that in 1992, Sue Ismiel created a natural, no-heat hair removal product for her daughter using ingredients found in her kitchen. By 1998, Nad´s Natural Hair Removal Gel had entered the U.S. market and is now also marketed in the UK, New Zealand and the Middle East.
Today, CEO Sue Ismiel "is recognized as one of Australia´s most successful entrepreneurs and dedicated philanthropists," according to the SI&D website.
" While the company, on its website proclaims that 'Nad´s continues to uphold family values of honesty, integrity and commitment to providing the best range of hair removal solutions for its customers,' Spetner's complaint asserts the SI&D Board of Directors knew that it had shipped hundreds of thousands of defective Nad's Body Hair Removal Strips for over a year," reads a press release from the Law Office of Russell J. Thomas, Jr. "Nevertheless, even today, it appears the company continues to withhold information regarding its defective product from U.S. retailers and consumers, ignoring the risk of a class action lawsuit by consumers who may believe they were deceived."
The Weekly has reached out to SI&D officials for comment and will update this post should it come.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.