G/O Media accidentally disclosed salary information for the embattled digital company’s HR chief in a letter from its top executive blasting its employee union on Friday.
Late last year, staffers at the sports and culture website Deadspin resigned en masse following the departures of top editors and a mandate from the company’s new management to stick to sports coverage.
On Friday, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller sent a letter to the Writers Guild of America East, which represents the company’s editorial employees, saying management would be suspending ongoing negotiations with unionized employees due to their “unreasonable and unprecedented” demands.
But in an electronic copy of Friday’s letter sent to some editors of G/O sites, which include former Gizmodo Media Group sites Jezebel, Kotaku, Gizmodo, and Jalopnik, among others, leftover text from a previous letter was unintentionally tacked on. The unformatted text ended with a note apparently sent by Spanfeller to Angela Persaud, the company’s head of human resources, formalizing a pay increase beginning in January, and revealing a generous six-figure salary offer.
“This letter is not intended to be an employment contract,” Spanfeller wrote. “Your employment will continue to be ‘at will,’ which means that either party may terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason and without further obligations to the other party. Thank you for your continued dedication to G/O Media.”
A G/O spokesperson told The Daily Beast the salary disclosure “was unintentional and a mistake.” Spanfeller and Persaud did not immediately respond to separate requests for comment.
Sources told The Daily Beast Persaud has taken on a large, and sometimes divisive, role in the company since she was hired in July. She was seen by some inside the newsroom as the driving force behind the widely mocked “employee handbook,” which caused internal uproar and was subsequently leaked to The Daily Beast.
G/O has been roiled by turmoil since Deadspin’s exodus. The company has continued to negotiate the exit of a number of former employees, according to one source with knowledge of the situation. And the union has released a number of strongly-worded statements criticizing leadership, as well as raising concerns about editorial independence and what they described as a troubling work environment.
In a statement responding to Spanfeller’s letter on Friday, the G/O Media union said the CEO’s behavior was “reckless” and “ill-informed,” arguing that “no one in this bargaining unit is surprised that, once again, Jim Spanfeller has demonstrated a jaw-dropping lack of understanding of the business he acquired.”