The CEO of Archie Comics, Nancy Silberkleit, is in trouble for allegedly referring to all of her male employees by the word “penis.” Five of Silberkleit’s male staffers recently filed a $32.5 million lawsuit claiming gender discrimination by the CEO, saying she used her gender as a weapon and has “stalked” employees to the point that they feel “unsafe.” Allegedly, Silberkleit hired Hell’s Angels to hang out around the Archie offices in Mamaroneck, New York in an attempt to intimidate the employees, and she's repeatedly inquired as to the whereabouts of a handgun that her late husband kept in the Archie Comics offices. The suit claims Silberkleit has a tendency to yell out things like “Penis! Penis! Penis!” in business meetings—something that wouldn’t seem so off-putting if it wasn’t happening during discussions about the love triangle between Betty, Veronica, and Archie, who most certainly does not have a penis.
But in papers filed this week, Silberkleit’s lawyers argue that the employees’ suit should be tossed, in part because all the claimants are white males, and white guys aren’t part of a “protected class.” According to the filings, “Plaintiffs fail to allege that any such comments were directed at the plaintiffs in particular, or that they could cause extreme emotional distress even if they had been.”
Silberkleit took over as co-CEO of the company in 2008, after the death of her husband. Her time at the company has been rocky, with her fellow CEO, Jonathan Goldwater, filing suit to have her removed from the role in 2011, charging that she was emotionally unstable and would run the company into the ground. That case was settled when Silberkleit agreed to have a person act as her go-between at the company—though that go-between, Samuel Levitin, filed papers this year saying Silberkleit had again “become unhinged,” attempting to convince the company to sex up Betty and Veronica, among other things.