Local News

Ex-Employees Testify Against Barbecue Chain's CEO

Posted September 24, 2007 6:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2007 9:30 p.m. EDT

— Citing a possible pattern of conduct, a judge on Monday allowed four former male employees of a restaurant executive to testify in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Jason Hallaman sued Smithfield's Chicken 'n Barb-B-Q founder and Chief Executive Gregory Moore three years ago, alleging he was fired as Moore's personal assistant in 2002 after he rebuffed several advances from Moore. The trial began last week, and testimony is expected to wrap up this week.

Lowell Kirk, John Vann, Paul Boyd and Randy Martin all testified Monday that Moore also propositioned them, made suggestive comments or physically touched them when they worked for him.

"One morning, he called on the intercom and asked me to come up to his quarters. When I got there, he was fully nude," said Boyd, who worked as Moore's assistant in 2004.

"He says, 'You know, you look really sexy. You're a really sexy-looking guy,'" said Vann, who managed several Smithfield's restaurants and was Moore's chief of staff last year.

Kirk, who worked as Moore's butler in 2002, shortly before Hallaman was hired, said he was at Moore's lake house during his third day on the job when Moore called him to his room.

"He asked me to take a seat on or to join him in bed. I wound up sitting on the corner of the bed," Kirk said. "He was underneath the covers, and they were partially pulled back. So, I could see he was not wearing any underwear."

Martin, who worked as a groundskeeper for Moore in 2003-04, said his boss commented several times on his physical appearance.

"I told him (the comments) were uncalled for," he said. "It just made me nervous as a person. I was just trying to do my job."

All four men said they were fired after rejecting Moore's advances. Martin also has a lawsuit pending against Moore.

Moore has denied, in pretrial documents, any wrongdoing in the case, although he acknowledged that he is bisexual.

Defense attorneys have said Hallaman was fired because of poor job performance and because he had signed Moore's name to a check for auto detailing services.