A Camden entrepreneur accused of sexually harassing various female employees at his downtown coffee shop has been named one of America's 100 worst bosses, according to eBossWatch.com.
Ronald Ford Jr. is No. 100. Ford is the only South Jersey boss on the list but other Garden State bosses who made the cut include Jersey City Parking Authority directors and a Cape May County Sheriff's Office sergeant. On the other side of the river Jerry Sandusky came in at No. 18.
The career-resource website released the list Monday. In its media release, it claims that the worst bosses have cost their employers more than $145 million in monetary damages and settlement payments.
"For the America's Worst Bosses list, we gather the list of America's Worst Boss candidates from court records and news reports from across the country. Then, a panel of respected workplace experts selects and ranks the worst bosses according to the severity of the boss' actions, the negative impact on their employees, and the extent of damages that they have inflicted on their organizations' work environment, reputation, etc., as well as financially," eBossWatch founder Asher Adelman said in an e-mail.
I recently wrote about Ford when the New Jersey Attorney General announced Ford had agreed to a $75,000 settlement in the sexual harassment case. However, Ford said he never agreed to the settlement, insisting he was wrongly accused.
The state sued Ford in 2007, contending that he had sexually harassed six women who worked at his shop across from Camden's City Hall. In addition to creating a hostile work environment, the suit alleged, Ford fired one of the women for reporting his conduct.
Ford made repeated sexual and obscene advances toward the women, often after luring or following them to areas where they could not be seen on the shop's surveillance camera, according to the suit.
In the summer of 2010, a jury found Ford guilty of harassing only one of the women. A retrial was ordered and scheduled for June 6, 2011. But the state Attorney General's office said that on the eve of the trial, a verbal settlement was reached. A judge ordered the verbal agreement valid on Oct. 21.
Ford was supposed to pay the women $15,000 within 60 days in order to have the $60,000 balanced dropped. Ford was unable to be reached for comment Wednesday.
City Coffee opened in 2002 and shortly after received media attention for offering an unusual array of services to the menu. In addition to coffee and muffins, the Camden native offered tax preparation and a $600 DNA paternity test.
Ford has leased the coffee shop to a new manager and is focusing on his other ventures, which include a business consulting service he runs from his office in the back of the store.