Michael Vackar, Houston Salesman, Fired For Refusing To Take Clients To Strip Clubs, Lawsuit Claims
Employers often go to great lengths to woo clients, treating them to lavish dinners and the best seats to major sporting and theatrical events. But how many would demand an employee take clients to strip clubs and procure sexual favors -- and fire the worker for refusing?
That's what salesman Michael Vackar (pictured above on his Facebook page) claims happened soon after he joined a Houston-branch of Superior Supply & Steel. In his recently filed wrongful-termination lawsuit, as reported by Houston TV station KTRK, Vackar says that his boss insisted that he take clients to strip clubs and procure prostitutes for them, and when Vackar refused he was fired. (Vackar did not respond to AOL Jobs' requests for an interview.)
Superior Supply manager Bill Kotcher allegedly even hinted at using the strip club outings to entrap clients. "Once you bring a customer to a place that has cameras, you have a customer for life," Kotcher told Vackar, according to the lawsuit. "Once you get a man on camera and you can get a copy of that, you can rest assured that he's going to be fearful if he doesn't remain your customer or become your customer."
The salesman says that he refused, telling his boss that his clients "are family men, and it's not right."
Vackar, who has 30 years' experience selling steel, says that only weeks after he began the job, he was urged to take his clients to Houston strip clubs and arrange for them to receive sexual favors, reports Courthouse News Service.
Superior Supply flatly denied the charges, telling the Houston Press via email that the "lawsuit is meritless." The company's attorney, Barry Golden, wrote, "The individual making these false allegations was terminated previously by Superior Supply & Steel for misconduct, and his filing of a frivolous lawsuit appears to be an act of retaliation."
According to John Ghezzi, Vackar's attorney, the salesman was told that he was let go for falsifying expense reports -- but that was "a smokescreen." Ghezzi says that two of his client's co-workers overhead the supervisor's conversations with Vackar.
Still, legal analysts described Vackar's case as difficult to prove, and noted that Texas is an "at will" employee state. "You can quit whenever you want. Conversely, I can fire you for any reason," attorney Christ Tritico told Houston radio station KTRH.
Though after-hours fraternizing at strip clubs isn't illegal, it can get employers into legal hot water if business is being conducted there and female co-workers are excluded. Morgan Stanley paid out $54 million in 2004 to some of its female employees who had complained they'd been excluded from a client meeting held at a strip club.
Complaints by male employees against outings to strip clubs is extremely rare, although earlier this year, a male administrator at a Maine hospital filed suit, claiming that he'd been retaliated against when he complained about staff outings to strip clubs during an annual conference. The hospital claimed that the supervising doctors responsible for the trip were disciplined and barred from returning to the strip club at future conferences.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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