Leaders of 101-Unit Wendy’s Operator Accused of Harassment, Defrauding PPP

    Former employee claims she was fired for raising objections.

    Legal | July 2020 | Ben Coley
    Wendy's exterior at night.
    Unsplash/Batu Gezer
    Sandi Adler is seeking compensatory damages for “all lost wages, loss of promotional opportunity, benefits and other remuneration” and restitutionary damages for her pain and suffering.

    A former employee of Wendy’s franchisee Starboard Group is seeking $1 million in damages after accusing leadership of sexual harassment and directing her to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program, according to a lawsuit.

    Sandi Adler, who worked as vice president of legal affairs and human resources from January 2019 to June, filed the complaint under Florida’s Private Whistle Blowers Act. Starboard, based in Broward County, Florida, is the operator of 101 Wendy’s in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    In the filing, Adler accuses CFO Kevin Holbrook of continual sexual harassment and unwelcome attention. In late fall, Adler brought the issue up in a meeting that included herself, Holbrook, and CEO Andrew Levy. Adler claims that in the meeting, she explained her objection to Holbrook’s calls and advances, but instead of investigating, Levy made light of the situation and validated Holbrook’s behavior.

    In regard to the misuse of PPP funds, Adler alleges that Levy ordered her to contact creditors, landlord, vendors, and suppliers and claims the company couldn’t meet financial obligations because it didn’t receive PPP funds. However, Adler claims these statements were false because Starboard had received approximately $9 million in PPP loans.

    Adler also claims about $1 million of those funds were personally diverted to Levy to finance a house he purchased in Montana. The lawsuit states Levy directed Adler to place certain people in Montana under the guise of corporate employees.

    When Adler complained to Holbrook about these actions, she was fired on June 1, the court documents state.

    She’s seeking compensatory damages for “all lost wages, loss of promotional opportunity, benefits and other remuneration” and restitutionary damages for her pain and suffering.

    QSR reached out to Wendy's for comment.