When pictures of their employees dressed up as homeless foreclosed homeowners for last year’s Halloween were published in the New York Times, the high-volume foreclosure firm brushed the matter aside. They said that it was “another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work.” But now that it’s blown up in their faces, they’re falling all over themselves to apologize.
Initially, a press spokesman for the Steven J. Baum law firm, when reached for comment by the New York Times about photos of last year’s Halloween party that an anonymous employee had sent in to columnist Joe Nocera, replied by releasing a statement that said, “It has been suggested that some employees dress in …attire that mocks or attempts to belittle the plight of those who have lost their homes… Nothing could be further from the truth.”
But the photos told a different story. They showed company employees dressed up like dirty homeless people and drinking brown-bagged wine. One of them held a cardboard sign that said, “I was NEVER served!” The insider source told the NYT this was supposed to parody the “typical excuse” given by homeowners trying to get out of a foreclosure. Cubicles were decorated like rows of foreclosed homes and a posted sign read, “Baum estates.” They clearly depicted an atmosphere with a disdainful attitude towards the homeowners the company made its money from by getting them kicked out of their houses.
Now the law offices have done a complete 180. Via statements issued through an outside communications firm, Steven Baum is apologizing profusely.
“The images in the photographs that were recently published by The New York Times obviously were in very poor taste,” read the first statement, obtained by WGRZ. “In fact, we had our annual Halloween party this past week at our various locations and we reiterated our company policy as it pertains to wearing appropriate costumes. No one is permitted to wear a costume that could be interpreted as being offensive.”
“On behalf of the firm, I sincerely apologize for what happened last year at our Halloween party.”
A second statement came out on Tuesday: “I again want to sincerely apologize for the inappropriate costumes worn by some of our employees at our Halloween Party in 2010. It was in extremely poor taste and I take full responsibility. I know people are extremely offended and they have every right to be upset with me and my firm.”
WGRZ reports that Dale Zuchlewski, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, has offered to teach classes to Baum employees about the homeless population in New York.