Solidcore Employees Alleged Their CEO Created A Toxic Culture. Now They’re Calling For Her To Step Down.

As BuzzFeed News previously reported, Solidcore ended its working relationship with Collinson, a former coach, earlier this summer after she began organizing instructors to demand better safety practices at the company in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Collinson later filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board contending that Solidcore restrained employees from speaking negatively about the company, illegally prevented coaches from organizing, and told employees they should quit if they didn’t feel safe at work.

In more than two dozen interviews, two dozen current and former Solidcore employees, including senior corporate leaders, said Collinson’s firing was symptomatic of a toxic culture at the company. They said Mahlum was often verbally abusive and at times sexually harassed employees, including, two former employees said, undressing in front of employees at a 2016 party at her home. BuzzFeed News viewed texts, emails, and other documents corroborating the employees’ accounts.

Other employees described instances of body-shaming, such as the company putting a scale in front of employee snacks, and several former company leaders alleged that Mahlum had fired two instructors she felt were not thin enough. Former high-level employees also said the company has a practice of avoiding paying vendor bills and alleged Mahlum opened new studios before certificates of occupancy were issued and misclassified employees as contractors to avoid paying taxes.

“It just felt like we’re being taken advantage of because we love the company, you know, we love the workout and the communities,” one former employee said in an interview. “It’s like, ‘Well, we can treat them whatever way we want because we kind of know that they’ll just do it.’”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Mahlum said, “I am deeply apologetic that anyone in the company or community was uncomfortable – whether now or 4-5 years ago. I am committed to learning and growing. … I hope those who I made uncomfortable will accept my apology.”

Mahlum also said in the statement that the company’s studios “comply with all guidelines, regulations, and laws,” and added that Solidcore and her own career are both “built on inspiring and connecting people through our inclusive community, which includes a diverse staff – race, gender and body type throughout every level of the organization.”

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News on Wednesday about the petition calling for Mahlum’s removal.

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