Color Labs founder accused of intimidation

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Well, we now know that Apple bought photo and video sharing company Color Labs last month - because Color Labs engineer Adam Witherspoon is suing both Color and its CEO Bill Nguyen, citing all sorts of ill-treatment.

In a civil suit filed in the Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara, Witherspoon claims that Nguyen 'routinely humiliated, harassed, ridiculed, exploited, and pushed employees, who departed in droves'.

He says Nguyen spent corporate funds on personal items and services, including his children's nanny and a skiing instructor. When this was discovered by the company's chief financial officer, Alyssa Solomon, Nguyen threatened to fire her, says Witherspoon.

And it gets worse: "Nguyen threatened violence against Witherspoon's young son on several occasions," reads the suit.

"One early morning, [Witherspoon's wife Jessica] Jordan walked into the room where their children were staying and witnessed Nguyen kicking Nguyen's older son in the stomach. Plaintiff Witherspoon believed that Nguyen's corporal punishment of his own son in front of others was meant as a show of force to intimidate Witherspoon's son."

Witherspoon accuses Color Labs and Nguyen of intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair business practices and three violations of the Labor Code.

When Apple took the company over, says Witherspoon, he was the only technical employee who wasn't invited to join. "Since every other member of the engineering team was going to be hired by Apple, there was no apparent reason why Plaintiff Witherspoon would be excluded," he complains.

The acquisition, for a reported $7 million, was presumably all about technical talent and patents, as Color is now warning that it plans to shut down at the end of the year.

TechCrunch has the full lawsuit, here: read it and consider that maybe your problems with your own boss could be a lot worse.