Apple's acquisition of Color Labs confirmed via a lawsuit claiming rampant intimidation

Back in October, we reported that, according to a source over at TNW, Apple was acquiring Color Labs, a company founded by Bill Nguyen and Adam Witherspoon. The deal was never confirmed, but speculation had it that Apple paid somewhere in the range of $5 million. Now we have confirmation that Apple did acquire the company thanks to a lawsuit against both the company and Nguyen in which Witherspoon alleges that his boss was abusive and threatening.

When the story originally broke, it was said that Nguyen had been absent from the company for three months over some "intense strain" going on with the company board. According to a lawsuit filed by co-founder Witherspoon, that strain encompasses such things as employee intimidation and threats regarding cooperation with an investigation into Nguyen's various "improprieties." Reportedly, both Witherspoon and Nguyen were close, with their respective families spending much time together.

Witherspoon stated that he had caught Nguyen kicking his son during a mutual family vacation, and that such abuse had happened on other occasions. The problems escalated, with Witherspoon reporting that Nguyen's antics grew worse, and included the public ostracization and humiliation of his (Witherspoon's) family. Finally, Nguyen, according to the lawsuit, then hit Witherspoon with a small severance package while getting in the way of whatever benefits Witherspoon would have received from the Apple acquisition.

Says the lawsuit, "When the company failed and key assets were being sold to Apple, Nguyen specifically retaliated against Witherspoon by blocking his job opportunities at Apple, offering him a de minimis severance package, disparaging him in the workplace and communicating to others that Witherspoon was being punished for cooperating with an investigation into Nguyen supervised by Color's outside counsel Gunederson Dettmer." The attacks went so far as to include the introduction of an "armed crony" into the workplace. The lawsuit is just getting started, but if the allegations prove to be true, it would seem that Color's employees have found themselves in a nicer workplace than where they started.

[via The Verge]