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Lawsuit alleges 'sexually hostile' culture, underpayment at Project Veritas

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Employees at Project Veritas, a conservative media organization known for releasing secret videos, have claimed illegal business practices and accused their leaders of fostering a “sexually hostile work environment.” denounced and filed two lawsuits on Sunday.

A class action lawsuit filed by Antonietta Zappier, Nick Gioia, and Dan Schuy in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleges that Project Veritas violated fair labor standards by failing to pay minimum wage for overtime hours. . activity.

Zappia further says she was fired from Project Veritas after being sexually assaulted and harassed by the group’s field director, Michael Spadone, according to another lawsuit she filed in the same court.

In court documents, she claimed her dismissal came after she “refused Spadone’s pleas to spend the weekend with him at his home for sexual contact”. It describes “sexually sexualized workplaces” and “sexually hostile work environments” as follows: Project Veritas.

Zappier, 61, was an administrative assistant at Project Veritas for 2.5 years.

The Hill has reached out to Project Veritas for comment. In a statement to the New York Times, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe described Zappier as a “disgruntled” ex-employee and called her claims “a series of fabricated lies.” I called.

Led by its founders, Project Veritas is known for sting operations and so-called expositions to label media organizations like CNN and the Washington Post as bigoted left-wing activists.

Project Veritas has been accused of deceptively editing the video and making exaggerated or false claims in its content.

The media group is embroiled in a legal battle with The Times over an article it published about a video accusing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Min) of voter fraud.

O’Keeffe himself was raided by the FBI last year when the diary of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, fell into his hands, Politico reported, but Project Veritas has not released anything about the diary. rice field.

A class action lawsuit filed Sunday alleges Project Veritas failed to pay three former employees overtime.

Even after submitting timesheets, plaintiffs allege they were not paid one hour at the minimum wage rate.

In Zappier’s lawsuit, the former employee described a toxic culture of drinking, sex and drugs at Project Veritas, alleging that “drinking and day and night drug use on the job was rampant.” increase.

Zappia claims he was frequently verbally harassed by Spadone, who supervised “journalists” who went on set to film the video.

According to court documents, she sexually assaulted Spadone at a Christmas party in December 2021 when she was intoxicated and heavily consuming marijuana, then approached her on the dance floor and inappropriately assaulted her. He claims to have touched

Zappia discussed the case with several colleagues, who said she “thought it was funny.” She ultimately never reported the alleged assault to Human Resources.

The proceedings lasted until March 2022, according to the lawsuit, when Spadone allegedly sought “sexual contact” with her. Zappia declined her invitation and despite receiving high marks for her work, she was fired the following week.

The official reason for Zappier’s dismissal was a “sarcastic” voicemail she left for a caller about a year ago, which she said was unearthed by Spadone’s research department.

Zappia also claims that Spadone made frequent sexual advances on other women, and that O’Keeffe oversaw a culture of objectifying women in Project Veritas.

Zappia was also expected to stand by for O’Keeffe “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” according to the complaint.

“She endured being woken up from her bed by a work call and driving to headquarters on the highway.
At night, I notify O’Keeffe in his pajamas to bring me a copy of his apartment key (he
I lost my keys frequently),” the complaint reads. “O’Keeffe had received death threats so often that Plaintiff felt unsafe at headquarters and did so despite arriving alone and without security guards.”

Zappier seeks $7 million in moral and punitive damages.