Belk department store this week sued its former CEO Nir Patel, another former executive and GameStop Corp. accusing them of stealing its employees and payroll information, according to North Carolina federal court documents.
Patel stepped down in May as CEO less than a year after taking the helm of the Charlotte-based retail chain. That same month, he was appointed chief operating officer for video game store chain GameStop Corp.
Since then, Patel has solicited some of Belk’s senior employees to resign and come to work for GameStop, despite the company’s 12-month agreement with Patel that restricts soliciting, recruiting or hiring Belk’s employees, the lawsuit states.
GameStop executives, including its CEO Matt Furlong, also encouraged “unfair and deceptive trade practices,” the lawsuit states, by aiding Patel’s recruitment of high-ranking Belk employees.
Tim May resigned as Belk’s senior vice president of supply chain this month after he was “poached” in June by Patel and GameStop officials, including Furlong, according to the lawsuit. May allegedly stole compensation information for hundreds of Belk employees.
Belk says May sent spreadsheets with confidential information to his personal emails that included Belk employees’ annual pay, bonuses and other benefit information.
“May undoubtedly intends to use that information to assist Patel and GameStop in their continuing unlawful campaign to raid Belk’s senior ranks,” the court documents state.
Along with a request for a jury trial, Belk asked the court to order Patel, GameStop and May to cease from sharing confidential employment information and recruiting its employees. The company also requested the court to bar GameStop from employing May and compensating for damages.
Belk is being represented by Jacob Wharton and Patrick Spaugh of Womble Bond Dickinson.
Law360 first reported about the lawsuit.
Belk officials referred to owner Sycamore Partners counsel, who declined comment Wednesday.
Efforts to reach GameStop officials were unsuccessful Wednesday. Attorneys for the defendants were not listed in the lawsuit.
Belk’s turbulent leadership, bankruptcy
The iconic Southern chain has been in flux since emerging from bankruptcy in February 2020.
Soon after the department store emerged from bankruptcy, Patel replaced Lisa Harper. He had been employed at Belk in various roles for five years with prior experience as senior vice president for Kohl’s.
In 2015, New York-based Sycamore Partners acquired the Belk family’s iconic department store chain for $3 billion. Harper was named CEO in 2016 and was the company’s first CEO outside the Belk family.
Following Patel’s departure, Don Hendricks was named interim CEO. He joined Belk six years ago as chief operating officer and was named president in 2020.
Belk has nearly 300 locations in 16 Southeastern states. Belk has about 17,000 full- and part-time workers at its stores and distribution center, and about 1,200 corporate employees in Charlotte.
This story was originally published August 24, 2022 12:50 PM.
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