London, March 11 (IANS) The anti-poverty campaign co-founded by U2 frontman Bono is being threatened with legal action by former employees who have claimed that they were bullied by a senior official for almost four years and their complaints were not dealt with properly.
The One Campaign, created in 2004 to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases, launched an investigation after a group of former employees from its Johannesburg office tweeted allegations of management misconduct, claiming that some staff in Africa were “treated worse than dogs”, the Guardian reported late Saturday.
The group told an internal inquiry into events between 2011 and 2015 that they were repeatedly ridiculed and belittled, and that a supervisor ordered them to do domestic work at her home at weekends.
Another alleged that she was demoted for refusing to become intimate with a foreign government official, after her manager made “sexist and suggestive comments” about her to him.
The allegations were revealed in a letter to members from Gayle Smith, who became One’s chief executive in March 2017.
She said One had filed a serious incident report to the Charity Commission earlier this month.
The inquiry found that a former official subjected junior employees to “verbal or email statements such as calling individuals ‘worthless’, ‘stupid’ and an ‘idiot’, at times doing so in front of third parties”, the Guardian quoted the charity as saying.
Smith said the campaign had not been able to corroborate the “appalling claims” that the female employee had been demoted for not becoming intimate with the foreign official, but added: “We do not discount any allegation – we investigate them and will continue to do so should others arise.”
Meanwhile, Bono has issued an apology over the claims.
Bono told the Mail on Sunday: “We are all deeply sorry. I hate bullying, can’t stand it.”
The singer said he was left “reeling and furious” when he learned of the allegations in November.
“My team and I heard concerns about low morale and poor management in this office but nothing along the lines of what emerged recently.
“The head office failed to protect those employees and I need to take some responsibility for that,” he told the Mail, adding that he would like to meet the victims to apologise in person.
Other prominent members of the charity’s board include former British Prime Minister David Cameron and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer.