Bowlero’s CEO comments publicly on achieving the distinction for the first time as the bowling alley chain continues to grow violently

Bowlero’s location at Chelsea Piers in New York City.


A Bowlero executive spoke publicly about the sprawling federal discrimination investigation the company faces for the first time Wednesday after it reported another quarter of what it described as record growth.

Brett Parker, the company’s outgoing CFO and longtime No. 2 to CEO Thomas Shannon, was asked about the investigation during the earnings call. The question came about a week after CNBC revealed that authorities wanted to settle the investigation for $60 million.

“There’s been quite a bit of noise related to the EEOC review that’s been hanging here. It seems to have garnered quite a bit of media attention in the last week. Want to know if there’s anything you’d like to comment on,” Jeremy asked Scott Hamblin, an analyst at Craig-Hallum Capital Group, Parker.

Parker responded by saying that the allegations in CNBC’s reporting are “totally false”, and that we “deny them in the strongest terms”.

“We have nothing to hide. We have cooperated fully and provided information for documentation — and documentation to the EEOC throughout this whole process,” Parker said.

“Our thorough investigation of the allegations has not established any evidence of wrongdoing or any violation of our policies prohibiting any form of employment discrimination,” he said.

Parker went on to say that the company “does not tolerate discriminatory or derogatory context”. “These are the facts,” he insisted, which is why the company has fought so hard to get the allegations out.

He said, “Whatever the outcome, it will not materially impact our business or distract us from executing against our strategic priorities. Our recent earnings results that we are talking about now reflect our unwavering focus and commitment to excellence.”

“At the end of the day, we stand by our positive workplace culture, we stand by our visionary leader, and we stand by our track record of developing exceptional talent. After that, there’s not much we can say.”

Last week, Bowlero stock fell 9% in intraday trading after CNBC published an investigation that revealed new details about an expanded investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission into the company’s hiring practices. The stock closed down about 4% that day.

Parker’s comments mark the first time a Bowlero executive has publicly addressed the EEOC investigation, which has been ongoing since 2016.

When CNBC reached out to Bowlero before publishing a report on the investigation, the company refused to make its executives available for an interview. It communicates only through his lawyer and an outside press representative. At times, discussions about reporting on the secret settlement negotiations became hostile when a representative of the outside press suggested that a CNBC reporter could be arrested for publishing the information, underlining the seriousness of the allegations.

The case involved at least 73 former employees who alleged they were fired based on their age, or out of revenge, according to stock filings.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause in 55 of those cases, which sparked a larger pattern or investigation in practice—the kind of investigation the agency initiates in cases where systemic problems of discrimination might occur.

The agency found rationale for Bowlero engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination since at least 2013, which coincides with its expansion from a small chain to a national powerhouse with 329 locations.

Former employees told the EEOC that the CEO of Bowlero is accused of directing employees to fire aging employees and replace them with candidates viewed as young and knee-jerk.

Among the employees, the top executive was also known to make condescending jokes about women, offhand remarks that were “racially motivated” and negative comments about LGBT people, the affidavit says. A former HR employee told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), some female employees did not publicly disclose their marital status or pregnancy for fear of losing their jobs.

Bolrow’s lawyers had previously called each claim against Shannon “meritless”.

While it’s not uncommon for a company, especially one the size of Bowlero, to encounter an EEOC complaint from a former employee, it’s rare for an EEOC to identify a reasonable cause.

In all of fiscal year 2021, the most recent data available, the agency found reasonable cause in only 2.8% of the thousands of age discrimination charges it received.

EEOC recently attempted to settle the charges for $60 million, but negotiations broke down when Bowlero faced $500,000, according to attorney Daniel Dowe, who represents more than 70 former employees with claims against the company.

Experts previously said the case is now expected to go to court, where Bolrow could face even heavier fines.

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