*Unlike Tavis Smiley, Richelieu Dennis, the owner of ESSENCE can breathe a lot easier now. The reason is in the statement below from the media outlet.
Following anonymous accusations leveled in a June 28th blog post against ESSENCE and its owner and chair Richelieu Dennis, our company launched a comprehensive and independent review by the law firms Proskauer Rose and Morgan Lewis that included investigating claims of sexual harassment and other issues that may adversely impact workplace culture.
This included outreach to the anonymous accusers and interviews with current and former employees
Today, we are providing an update on the review process and sharing the findings released by Proskauer Rose, led by partner Keisha-Ann Gray, concerning sexual harassment. The investigation concluded that that these claims are not substantiated. There were no suggestions or allegations of any sexual harassment by Dennis from witnesses in any of the interviews, nor were there ever any formal or informal complaints made to the company – despite ESSENCE engaging outside HR consultants and internal professionals, unrelated to Dennis, during the entire tenure of Dennis’ ownership with whom complaints could be filed.
ESSENCE takes these matters seriously and maintains a policy against sexual harassment, actively enforces such policy, and remains committed to ensuring a workplace free of sexual harassment.
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We are awaiting the conclusion of the Morgan Lewis review related to workplace culture and will provide a subsequent update once those findings are available. ESSENCE looks forward to the results as we continue to advance our mission of elevating and empowering Black women and communities, both in and out of the workplace.
Reviewing attorneys Keisha-Ann G. Gray and Atoyia S. Harris of Proskauer Rose LLP wrote of the three sexual harassment allegations:
“A primary consideration for the foregoing findings was the fact that no witness came forward to provide any facts or circumstances to support Allegation Nos. 1, 2 or 3.
“Additionally, the witnesses interviewed did not provide any factual support for Allegation Nos. 1, 2 or 3 and the documents reviewed did not contain any information to support the claims in Allegation Nos. 1, 2 or 3.
“Finally, the facts provided by the witnesses interviewed contradicted the claims raised by Allegation Nos. 1, 2 and 3, and we did not receive any information, factual or otherwise through
the course of this Review that substantiates Allegation Nos. 1, 2 or 3.. . .”
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