Monica Dawidowicz, an aesthetician who worked at Shen from 2020 to 2023, also said Ms. Richards had a habit of yelling at employees. “Sometimes, quite literally, she’d be screaming at the highest of her lungs,” Ms. Dawidowicz said. Carrie Lindsey, one other former worker, said working at Shen had taken a toll on her mental and physical health. “It’s hard, because there have been good times, too,” Ms. Lindsey said. “It’s a typical abusive relationship.”
Ms. Richards had no comment on whether she had yelled at employees or used an offensive term.
Samson Smith said he had enjoyed a part of his time working at Shen. But he quit after several years, because, he said, he had “had enough.” He added that he had heard Ms. Richards refer disparagingly to people of color. “My dad all the time told me not to rent fat or Black people because they’re lazy,” Mr. Smith, who’s white, recalled Ms. Richards saying.
“It felt like she was saying it to check how I’d respond,” he added.
Another worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive conversations, recalled Ms. Richards making an analogous comment.
Ms. Richards wrote in an email to The Times that she had “never avoided hiring people of color or insulted someone for his or her race or size because doing so could be against every little thing I think in, and my commitment to diversity and inclusion is backed up by the numbers: Most of my hires chosen by me personally were people of color, and nearly all of our staff were people of color or a part of the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community.”
Some employees described being touched inappropriately by a manager at work. Mr. Smith said this manager had slapped his butt; Ms. Willson said the manager had groped her breasts. After employees complained to Ms. Richards, the manager was fired. But Ms. Richards ended up bringing the previous manager back to the shop.
Ms. Richards acknowledged that she had fired and rehired the worker in query, adding, “My initial instinct was correct, and I regret giving her a second likelihood.”