Transperfect CEO’s Engage in Misconduct, Abusive Management Practices, and Enabling a Toxic Workplace

Phillip Shawe and Elizabeth Elting are engaged in a serious legal deadlock for the controlling stake of Transperfect. Within the decade, this house divided has managed to thrive with consistent profit margins. It seems as though the pot has simmered into a boil with a vicious public commercial divorce putting the company, the profitability, and the welfare of their employees at great risk.

With both parties citing cases of great wrongdoing and erratic behavior, matters escalated to the point that a temporary restraining order had to be filed for the company to process payroll.

Tale of the (Transperfect) Tape.

Ms. Elting charged Mr. Shawe with giving unauthorized raises, threatening and harassing staffers loyal to her, blocking emails and causing her to double-pay her income taxes, making sexual advances toward workers at company events and becoming more increasingly erratic and dangerous. According to one of the court documents for the Transperfect Lawsuit, “Over the past eight months, Shawe has proven himself unfit to serve as a director or officer of TransPerfect, having engaged in conduct that this Court already has described as being ‘so over the top and so off the charts that it immediately calls into mind his abilities to effectively run any corporation, even a mom and pop drug store.'”

Mr Shawe claims that Ms. Elting took the cash out of the company without authorization and harassed employees loyal to him. He also filed a restraining order of his own, claiming that she injured him during an argument last June.

This couple went from telling .Inc magazine, “We like not having to answer to other people,” in August 2012. “We like that it’s just the two of us.”

to telling the court:

“Given [her] increasingly erratic behavior and desire to bleed the business dry, if any partner is not fit to continue running the company, it is Ms. Elting,”

Foundation Falling Apart

According to a recent Crain’s article about the lawsuit, “Ms. Elting said in court documents that “Fortune 100 clients” have pulled or threatened to pull more than $20 million in business. She described TransPerfect as “in a state of utter dysfunction.” Although an internal email said the third quarter was the firm’s best ever and annual revenue is on pace to reach $473 million, Ms. Elting warned in a recent court filing that ‘this fortunate state of affairs cannot reasonably be expected to be sustained much longer given the existing deadlock’….A state judge, who described the warring sides’ emails as “cursey and miserable,” observed: “Both parties really need to reassess their management abilities.”

It’s hard to say how long this animousity has been brewing. Amidst all these court documents, there is so much more lost in the translation.