The owner of an established Christchurch cafe has received death threats amid allegations he mistreated staff and job applicants.
Hundreds of people have come forward on social media with claims of misconduct by C1 Espresso owner Sam Crofskey.
Crofskey has rejected specific claims, but accepted overall responsibility.
“It is extremely distressing to hear about all of this. It’s not something anyone wants to wake up to,” Crofskey said.
The allegations surfaced after a woman posted to a Canterbury University Students Association Facebook page, where she detailed her interview experience and brief time at the cafe and warning others not to apply for a job there.
For many, however, it was too late.
Paige Hookham said Crofskey had asked in a job interview why she had finished high school early.
“I did tell him — and it was a personal reason, it wasn't just because I wanted to leave school — and he basically explained that I was thick and dumb and that I was never going to get anywhere in life,” she said.
Crofskey said there “is no way that I would call someone dumb”, however.
Hookham said she was then questioned about her mental health.
“He just went very harsh and how he would never hire someone with a mental illness and that I need to go and sort my head out is, quote, what he said,” she said.
Crofskey countered that it was “not an interview question that I would ask”.
Former employee Brooke Rich worked at C1 Espresso for three weeks before leaving, having felt degraded by the experience.
“I almost broke a glass and he said to me, ‘Do not do this, you're embarrassing me and my cafe and you're embarrassing the customers,’” Rich said.
The original Facebook post has since received thousands of comments, with many alleging similar experiences.
The situation has taken a toll on Crofskey, who said he is “not a monster”.
“I'm getting enough notifications that are asking me to burn in hell,” he said.
But those Crofksey has dealt with say it’s also taken a toll on them.
“It definitely destroyed my confidence quite a bit,” Hookham said.
Hookham said she wished she had spoken up earlier so others did not have to suffer.