Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2018
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies

6. Commitments and Contingencies


Lease Obligations The Company leases office space and equipment under various operating lease agreements, including an office for its headquarters, as well as office spaces for its events business, sales and administrative offices under non-cancelable lease arrangements that provide for payments on a graduated basis with various expiration dates.


Rent expense, amounting to approximately $87,000 and $401,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, respectively, and approximately $495,000 and $847,000 for the nine months ended September 30, 2018 and 2017, respectively, and are included in general and administrative expense in the condensed consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss.


Legal Proceedings


In a letter dated October 12, 2017, White Winston Select Asset Funds (“White Winston”) threatened assertion of claims against the Company. The letter alleges that White Winston suffered $2,241,958 in damages as a result of the Company’s alleged conduct that caused a delay in White Winston’s ability to sell shares in the Company during a period when the Company’s stock price was generally falling. The Company investigated White Winston’s claims and communicated to White Winston that the Company denies liability for any such claims. White Winston filed an action, entitled White Winston Select Asset Funds, LLC v. Professional Diversity Network, Inc., No. 18-cv-10844, on April 30, 2018 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts making similar claims and alleging that it suffered a loss of $1,708,233 as a result of the delay in selling shares. White Winston seeks to recover compensatory damages, double or treble damages under M.G.L. ch. 93A, and costs and attorneys’ fees. White Winston informed the Company on October 23, 2018 that they cannot meet the jurisdiction requirement for federal court and are therefore voluntarily dismissing this federal court case and re-filing a new case in state court.


NAPW is a defendant in a Nassau County (NY) Supreme Court case, whereby TL Franklin Avenue Plaza LLC has sued NAPW with respect to NAPW’s former Garden City NY Premises. NAPW had surrendered the Premises to the Landlord, and the Landlord is suing NAPW for the balance of the rent due under the Lease Term – which term is less than one year remaining. The case is currently being litigated, and we are currently in the pleadings phase of the litigation.


The Company is a party to a proceeding captioned Gerbie, et al. v. Professional Diversity Network, Inc. (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill.), a putative class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. A settlement has been reached and case has been dismissed by the court. The Company believes that its practices and procedures were compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and admitted no fault.


NAPW and PDN are two of the named Respondents in a Superior Court of New Jersey Proceeding, and they are being sued by Shore Digital LLC. The Petitioner in this matter, Shore Digital LLC is alleging that both NAPW and PDN are in breach of contract, and the matter involves the payment of the entire value of the contract plus counsel feels, interests, and costs owing to the Petitioner. The case is on-going, and discussions are taking place to assess the company’s options to settle the matter without further litigation.


The Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, NAPW, Inc., are parties to a proceeding captioned Deborah Bayne, et al. vs. NAPW, Inc. and Professional Diversity Network, Inc., No. 18-cv-3591 (E.D.N.Y.), filed in June of 2018 and alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and certain provisions of the New York Labor Law. The Company disputes that it or its subsidiary violated the applicable laws or that either entity has any liability and intends to vigorously defend against these claims. The matter is in the earliest stages of discovery. The potential financial impact on the Company is inherently uncertain at this point.


The Company is a party to a proceeding captioned Jacqueline M. Jefferson v. Noble Voice, No. 440-2018-06979 (EEOC), filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on July 10, 2018 and alleging violations of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, where an employee alleges she was terminated by the Company due to her age on May 25, 2018. Ms. Jefferson’s termination was as a result of the sale of the Noble Voice business on May 25, 2018. The Company and Jacqueline Jefferson are in the process of mediation.


General Legal Matters


From time to time, the Company is involved in legal matters arising in the ordinary course of business. While the Company believes that such matters are currently not material, there can be no assurance that matters arising in the ordinary course of business for which the Company is, or could be, involved in litigation, will not have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition or results of operations.