A former employee of PodcastOne — a network run by veteran radio exec Norman Pattiz — alleges that he was instructed to inflate download numbers in order to rip off advertisers.
Raymond Hernandez filed a wrongful termination suit in L.A. Superior Court on Friday. In it, he claims that after raising objections about the fake numbers, Pattiz threatened him by brandishing a firearm.
“Defendant Pattiz would pull his firearm out at work, and would place it on a desk or a work surface with the muzzle pointed at Plaintiff,” the suit alleges. “Plaintiff believed such conduct to be a threat that he comply with the directives set forth by his supervisor, Pattiz, at PodcastOne under force and threats of force.”
Pattiz, the founder and executive chairman of PodcastOne, is a reserve sheriff’s deputy. Hernandez says he would show off his badge and bragged about his connections to law enforcement.
“Pattiz informed Plaintiff that he was the law at PodcastOne both literally and figuratively,” Hernandez alleges.
Hernandez says that he complained about Pattiz’s bullying behavior, and alleges that he was fired in July 2016 in retaliation.
In a statement, Pattiz denied the charges.
“This guy must be crazy,” Pattiz said in a statement. “I’ve never met alone with him. I didn’t hire him or fire him. I barely know who he is. The fact that I’m a law enforcement reserve is well known as I have public service awards in my office. I didn’t and would never act in the manner that’s been described… His allegations are absurd.”
Pattiz also founded Westwood One, the nation’s largest radio network, and serves on the University of California Board of Regents. PodcastOne distributes the Adam Carolla Show, the Dan Patrick Show, and dozens of others. Hernandez says he was ordered to input fake download numbers for shows.
“The significance of the number of downloads for a given podcast arises because Plaintiff understood that such numbers would be communicated to advertisers in order to justify the advertisers’ payments to Defendant Podcast for inclusion of their advertisements on podcasts,” the suit states.
Last year, Pattiz was forced to apologize after comedian Heather McDonald aired a clip of him offering to hold her breasts during the recording of a bra commercial.
In the lawsuit, Hernandez states that Pattiz accuses him of leaking the audio to McDonald, and has sought to punish him for it. After he was fired at PodcastOne, Hernandez was hired as a podcast producer at Bulletproof 360. He says PodcastOne pressured his new employer to let him go.
“Mr. Hernandez was fired for stealing intellectual property from PodcastOne — a theft he has admitted to committing,” said PodcastOne’s attorney, Marvin Putnam. “We have no idea why he was fired from his latest employer. We do know, however, that Mr. Hernandez only brought this ridiculous lawsuit after we let him know that we were going to sue him for his thievery. We would also recommend that Mr. Hernandez watch a little less ‘Westworld.'”