• CEO has been accused of physical violence and disruptive behavior.
  • There are questions and complaints about business practices.
  • Former employees raise concerns about “work hard, play hard” company culture.

New York State is giving a $1.5 million state grant to a company whose CEO has been accused of violent behavior, fostering a “work hard, play hard” workplace, engaging in questionable business practices and underpaying employees.

CGI is a privately-held company with a headquarters on East Main Street. Founded in 1987, it employs about 300 people. The company creates websites and promotional videos, and offers search engine optimization and social media management services. It counts as many of its clients municipalities and business associations.

Rochester for All contacted CGI by phone and email several days ago, but we have not received a response. If we receive any response or corrections, we will provide the information in this post.

Taxpayer Support and Political Ties

CGI is in the midst of expanding its downtown footprint. CEO Robert Bartosiewicz told the Democrat and Chronicle in February 2017, “We’re doing this all on our own dime.” Yet in December 2017, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council awarded CGI $1.5 million for the project.

CGI has enjoyed a number of grants and tax incentives over the years. The company received a $2.1 million loan from the City of Rochester under the Robert Duffy administration. CGI has also received assistance from COMIDA.

Bartosiewicz has connections to former mayor Duffy and current mayor Lovely Warren.

Duffy’s daughter worked for the company at one time. Duffy also appointed Bartosiewicz to the Greater Rochester Sports Authority. CGI sells video ads for Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, where Duffy is CEO. Duffy co-chairs FLREDC, which awarded the recent $1.5 million state grant to CGI.

Bartosiewicz donated a combined $8,000 to Warren’s campaign and political action committee individually and through his company. Warren held her 2017 State of the City Address at the CGI complex downtown. CGI sponsored the city’s Party in the Park concert series.

Complaints About Business Practices

CGI typically contracts with a municipality or business association to produce free online promotional videos. CGI gets revenue by selling sponsorships of the videos. CGI has hundreds of satisfied clients all over the country and is endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.

However, CGI Communications has a number of complaints regarding aggressive sales tactics, misrepresentation, overcharging and taking business away from local vendors.

A North Carolina mayor who believed local businesses didn’t realize their ad dollars were going to an out-of-state firm likened CGI’s services to a “city-authorized scam.”

Another North Carolina town rejected CGI’s offer, citing complaints on the Better Business Bureau website. The board of commissioners worried about price-gouging and a negative impact on local videographers.

The BBB website includes 29 reviews of CGI, of which 17 are complaints. In some cases, CGI provided full refunds. In other cases, CGI referred customers to contracts they signed.

In one case detailed on the BBB website, after a business said no to a sales pitch, a CGI employee gave the business a one-star rating on Google. CGI responded on the BBB website that it disciplined the employee and used the incident as a teachable moment. In another case, a customer accused CGI of writing fake positive reviews about his company, which CGI denied.

Local videographers have complained in several cities when deals are inked with CGI. CGI has been accused of underpaying subcontractors. A Connecticut marketing company claims CGI was charging small businesses far more than appropriate for the services rendered. CGI claims it offered lower-priced packages.

A Napa business owner claimed she paid CGI $2,000 for a video ad, but the company never produced anything. The woman later got a refund.

One business association claims CGI was soliciting customers under false pretenses.

A Florida business claimed a CGI salesman said he was with the mayor’s office and offered discounts if he could use their boat.

Allegations of Low Pay

Five women sued CGI in 2014 for not paying them overtime. The women said they had to write scripts in a “fill in the blank” and “Mad Libs” style for clients. They claim they earned annual salaries of $25,000 and were forced to work unpaid overtime. The women said sometimes they were allowed to leave work early “on the condition that they go to a bar with members of the management and/or executive team.” In court papers, CGI denied the allegations.

According to a court filing, CGI paid the women back wages for disputed hours, but admitted no wrongdoing. The parties agreed that the women may have worked hours without the company’s knowledge, and the women may have performed tasks exempt from overtime laws.

Read Lawsuit Alleging Unpaid Overtime

Violence and Disruptive Behavior

John Rand, who was Bartosiewicz’s executive assistant, filed a federal lawsuit against Bartosiewicz claiming the CEO assaulted him. In court papers, Rand said the incident happened in 2012 at a Super Bowl party in Indianapolis featuring celebrities and Playboy Playmates. Rand said he asked Bartosiewicz to step out of the frame for a group picture, and in response, the CEO kneed him in the right thigh. Rand claimed he suffered an injury that required a full knee replacement. In court papers, Bartosiewicz denied the allegations. Both sides agreed to end the case for undisclosed terms. When we reached him by phone, Rand said he’s not allowed to discuss the matter. Bartosiewicz’s insurance company sued him over the incident, saying their policy doesn’t cover liability associated with assault.

In 2011, Bartosiewicz was arrested for arguing with patrons at a downtown Rochester bar and refusing to leave. We don’t know how the case was adjudicated.

Around 2009, the co-owner of the now-closed Matthews East End Grill contacted police when Bartosiewicz and another man got into a fist fight. “They were rolling around on the floor,” said Carl Falk. Officers gave Bartosiewicz a warning, Falk said.

John Rand’s affidavit as part of federal lawsuit

Screen grab from CGI’s page on Glassdoor.com.

Work Hard, Play Hard 

CGI Communications brags of its “work hard, play hard” culture on Glassdoor.com and social media.

“The holiday parties would get kind of out of hand. (Bartosiewicz) would randomly walk up to you and kiss you and hug you,” said a woman who worked at CGI from 2013 to 2016. She saw women coworkers sit on his lap.

“At our Christmas party, I’m sitting by the bar. (The CEO) comes up to me and screams in my ear, ‘Are you having fun?’ and kissed me on the corner of my mouth,” said a woman who worked at CGI in 2011 when she was in her early 20s. Another time, the woman said she was in the elevator. “(Bartosiewicz) gets into the elevator and he puts his hands on my hips and walks me back into the elevator.”

A woman on Twitter posted, “if we sat on the CEO’s lap at the Christmas party we got a day off.”

Eight of the former CGI workers with whom we spoke didn’t want to be named. Some work in sales and worried about what clients would think. Some said their current bosses would disapprove. Some worried about upsetting former coworkers who still work at CGI. Many pointed out that Rochester can feel like a small town, and speaking against a powerful individual could impact their careers.

A man who worked at the company in 2015 said Bartosiewicz was giving a tour when he stopped to ask a woman employee for a kiss. The woman complied. “That was really creepy,” the man said.

The man said his department was invited to spend a Friday afternoon on Bartosiewicz’s yacht. Pictures and videos posted by CGI of these outings show women and men wearing swimsuits. The man said he saw some women sitting on Bartosiewicz’s lap during the outing.

“I liked being with my friends on a yacht drinking during the work week,” the man said.

A woman who worked at CGI in the mid 2000s said a vice-president “grinded” her while intoxicated at a bar. Later, she was invited on a company cruise in the Bahamas. She said spouses were not allowed on the trip. Bartosowiecz joined the group.

“It was a free-for-all of inappropriateness,” the woman said.

Nearly a year later, Bartosiewicz suddenly fired her. She said it happened in front of other people. “I’m letting you go. You’re out of here,” Bartosiewiecz allegedly said. The woman said she had never been told of any problems with her performance. She said another company executive tried to intervene, to no avail.

“It was highly unprofessional and distasteful, to just fire me in front of people in a hallway,” the woman said.

Another man said Bartosiewicz fired him in front of a group of trainees in late 2015. The man was giving a presentation and stumbled. When he said, “I forgot my place,” the man said Bartosiewicz yelled at him, “What the fuck did you just say?” The former worker said the CEO then threw a coffee mug at him and it smashed against wall. Bartosiewicz then fired him on the spot.

“You constantly felt that any day could be your last day,” the man said.

Rochester for All talked to someone who was in the meeting and verified Bartosiewicz’s behavior, except that he didn’t remember the CEO throwing the coffee mug.

Multiple former employees say Bartosiewicz often berated the staff, frequently using profanity.

“He has these Monday morning meetings where he screams at everyone…Some of the Monday mornings, I felt incredibly offended. There was a meeting that prompted someone to quit, she was so offended,” said the woman who worked at CGI from 2013 to 2016. She added, “There are a lot great people working there.”

“I went to bed every night shaking that I had to go back there the next day,” said a former employee.

Conclusion

Rochester for All calls on local and state governments to review their relationships with CGI Communications. The behavior of the CEO and concerns of former employees and customers should lead to some soul-searching among government officials. There is enough that is part of the public record that warrants concern.

 

Author: Rachel Barnhart

 

Follow-up: CGI: A Fake Review Factory?

    • Alton Baird says:

      The book would hopefully be about building a company that employs hundreds of people, is helping invigorate Rochester’s downtown and provides valuable services to thousands of businesses and thousands of communities. Having known this company for well over 20 years and having experience with 100’s of clients in my business, I can verify that this company is far better than 95% of the companies in this country. The company has had multiple lucrative offers to move and has always remained a steadfast part of Rochester for 31 years.

      • Steve Dude says:

        Given the fact that there are 27.9 million small businesses in the US that would equate to CGI being better than 26.5 million of them. Wow, you know a LOT of people! Please verify this for the readers.

  1. Nicole Graff says:

    I lasted 6 months there before I couldn’t stand it anymore. He’s a terrible person; a tyrant, really. He walks around like he’s Hugh Hefner and treats everyone, especially his current assistant, like dogs. I truly don’t know how people continue to work there. College educated young people are wasting their time cold-calling businesses, not making enough money to survive. I saw through that crap right away!!!

  2. This is just another example of if you see it report it. ie: a group filed a lawsuit for back pay and overtime. Local Attorney(s). Did anyone contact the Dept of Labor? The District Attorney? The FBI? These state and federal agencies have their own “police departments.” Investigators who use their official capacity to weed out these allegations. I see many people here with complaints who kept their complaints at the local level. Go outside the normal and the punishment may see a turn for the victims, rather than another party for the assailant. These allegations are going outside State lines too.

  3. I don’t understand how he’s still in business with the way he runs this place. Working there was the worst 2 years of my life (I was finishing my degree and felt stuck there). I wouldn’t go back there for any amount of money in the world.

  4. I was there for 2 years, witnessed a lot of drug usage in the office, drinking in the office, managers and vice presidents hitting on and sleeping with subordinates, the CEO throwing pens at people saying “if I were your age I would crush you at sales”. There is outdated computers and technology but somehow they find the money to buy a pointless boat to party on. No room for career growth or advancement and the product itself generates very little repeat business. Constant threats of being fired and empty promises from management.

  5. I went to Rochester City Schools as a young boy, eventually graduating from Brighton then getting a degree at Suny Brockport. So, I am as proud as anyone about the Rochester area. I looked all over the area for strong paying jobs after college, truth be told, there were none!The only reason I still live, and pay taxes in this community is because of my decade plus career at CGI. I never would have lived here if not for CGI. I now have a physicians level income and can attribute it mostly to the opportunity Bob and CGI have given me. I would also like to comment on the courage Bob had to bring and keep his company downtown. 11 years ago this area looked dreadful. Now, there is massive positive change. Lets encourage more of our companies to emulate CGI, rather than attacking them.

    • Eric,

      No one is obligated to support any company, regardless of the product they produce. More importantly, your comments deflect from the issues at hand. There are dozens of individuals who have experienced/witnessed similar abusive situations. There does not seem to be any reason to believe these individuals conspired to coordinate their stories and they certainly do not have anything to gain by making it up. If this article offers any criticism, it does so fairly.

  6. I worked there for a total of 3 days before I realized how terrible of a company this was. Bob was a disgusting pig, making sexual comments and bragging about his money. When they hired me as. Production Assistant, they said I would be working with the creative department – instead, I was told the entire job was cold calling cities and local businesses. When I questioned my manager, she said, “oh yea, that’s how we get people to take the job”

    Disgusting.

  7. It’s a terrible place to work. Barto is an awful human being and lacks any true leadership qualities. I worked as a video editor there for a brief period of time. It was a marketing sweatshop. Had to hit quotas on videos edited in a day. Now their “digital” agency Next performs all sorts of black hat techniques. The worst one is creating fake Google accounts to leave positive Google reviews on their clients’ sites. The leadership there lacks any moral or ethical characteristics.

  8. Meghan Hoffmann says:

    This is all comical. I’m sure that you gain an average tenure of over 7 years by being the worst?? Makes no sense. Coming from a once-former employee, I know people assume the grass is always greener… the grass is the most green here, trust. This is not a place you start a job, you build a career.

    • Meaghan,

      Your points are valid. They don’t, however, negate the points made in this article. It is possible to have an unhealthy work environment also be a place where a career is built.

  9. This article is garbage, I’ve worked with for this company for over a decade, Ms. Barnhart interviews a bunch of “ex employees” i.e. people who worked themselves out of a job. Not a single comment from a current employee. Yeah the CEO might be tough on you, it’s only because he wants the best out of you and if somebody can’t handle a little criticism, well then good luck in life to that snowflake. Bob Barto and the CGI executive team has done more for employees than any other company I’ve ever been a part of. Rachel Barnhart is looking for click bait and should be ashamed of herself.

    • Even if you take out the former workers, there is cause for concern.

      That said, the former workers all have the same experiences. They didn’t all work there at the same time. Their voices matter.

      We have since heard from other former workers who shared the exact same stories, and then some. They’ve all moved on with their lives and gain nothing by speaking out.

      Are you suggesting they’re lying about Bartosiewicz kissing women workers and having them sit on his lap? What specifically is inaccurate?

      The perspective of current workers is important, but it doesn’t mean the former workers didn’t have these experiences. – Rachel

      • So the perspective of current workers is so important, you interviewed a total of none? How can you justify that?

        • We contacted CGI for an official comment. They chose not to respond. We will post any response from the company and have been approving comments supporting the company from workers. – Rachel

    • Bob,

      Do you realize you’re defending an individual whose public record incidents alone render him disreputable?

  10. “Hey we interviewed 10 of Steve’s ex girlfriends and guess what…. Nobody had anything good to say” …. Award winning journalism here….

    • Nobody goes to work a job wanting to date the boss. Have you learned nothing from news of the last few months?

  11. I work for a company that has hired two former employees and had an employee whose spouse was a manager there. I can say with absolute certainty that we heard of similar stories including objectifying and harassing female employees. Many people in the advertising and communications field have wondered when someone would pull the curtain back and expose this facade of a reputable company.

  12. Evan Gooding says:

    If you’re going to do a legitimate investigation on a company comments from older employees shouldn’t be considered credible sources. The stories they tell are entertaining and will generate a lot of conspiracy theories about CGI. However these stories do not accurately depict the reputation of this company. So let me tell my story as a current employee.

    2 years ago I was out of college and eager to get in the workforce. I struggled to find work in my digital marketing field and I saw a commercial for CGI. I looked into the company and wanted to learn more. After the interview the company gave me a shot.

    The past 2 years have been the best 2 years of my life. This job gave me the opportunity to learn and grow with my digital advertising career path. I’ve met with Mayor’s, County Officials, CEOs and Presidents of organizations large and small. All of which are now flourishing with CGI’s services and technology and I was able to provide it for them. The networking alone I’ve received from providing these services to these influential members of society is truly incredible.

    As far as my thoughts on our CEO I’ve never met someone who loves Rochester more than him. He has brought incredible job opportunities and development to downtown Rochester. He has a wealth of knowledge and has instilled life lessons and critical advice that have shaped me to become as successful as I am today. I’ve never seen or heard of anything inappropriate happening between him and his employees.

    I do give you quite a lot of credit though Rachel. Through your valiant research you have managed to find about a half of a dozen people that don’t like CGI. That must’ve been tough and I applaud you for it! Your job as a reporter shouldn’t stop there though. As an arguably reputable reporter you should try to include some insight from people who know and understand what the company stands for. If you’d like me to sit down and do an interview with you please let me know and I’d be happy to share more.

    Otherwise good luck with whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish here I truly hope you find it to be a great waste of time.

    • I’m glad you have had a positive experience and I appreciate your insight. We’ve now spoken to 20 former employees who tell of troubling behavior and work practices. I am comfortable with the volume and consistency of the stories. Many people corroborated specific incidents. Just because you didn’t see something, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But again, your perspective is important and I am glad you’ve shared it. We did ask the company for a response. We still welcome one now. – Rachel

    • Evan,

      No part of this article offers a criticism against you or the opportunities the company has provided to its employees. The goal is to inform the public, whose taxs dollars are being used to support CGI, about the objectively unethical behavior of the CEO.

      All of the accounts of abuse and harassment aside for a moment, I would never knowingly invest in a company if the CEO was getting involved in bar fights and being sued for assault.

      Whether or not the attributes you have described redeem him is for each individual to decide. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

      • Evan Gooding says:

        Not to mention the tax dollars contributing to CGI are going to benefit the residents of Rochester. Nobody is perfect just look at this reporting for example.

  13. Anonymous 2 says:

    I worked here for 5 years as a top performer and I can say this article is quite accurate. Especially in the sales department.

  14. William B. says:

    The current employees that stand in defense of the CGI “business model” are a disgrace. My son is a former employee of CGI. He wishes to remain anonymous because of fear of retaliation. The mental anguish he experienced and the pressure he was under to perform would not be tolerated at any legitimate business. Former employees should file a class action suit against CGI, the CEO, and its leadership team for allowing the practices mentioned in this blog. These testimonials show abuse of power through bullying, sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment. I encourage all of you who were treated poorly by Mr. Bartosowiecz to stand together as one and have your collective voice heard!!!

  15. Alton Baird says:

    Right off the bat, the biggest point you make is absolutely and demonstrably false. You refer to the Better Business Bureau’s reviews of CGI Communications. I just checked the site myself because that seemed so wildly inaccurate (and it is in fact wildly inaccurate). There are 34 reviews as of this minute and 31 are Positive! 3 are negative. From all available information, CGI has tens of thousands of clients! And has been in business for over 31 years. So your facts are absolutely wrong. You conflate complaints with reviews. And by the way to have only 17 complaints in 31 years is not only laudable, it is amazing. In addition, to state the demonstrably wrong review statistics is misleading at the very best and certainly libelous. I hope to have you reply and address the actual number of positive/negative reviews and correct your story.

    Then to quote a few disgruntled employees while CGI is consistently a Best Workplace, as noted by the Democrat & Chronicle (based on 300 anonymous employee interviews) is also not a healthy journalistic approach but mere cherry picking of the facts to fit your personal viewpoint.

    Your article was not only wildly inaccurate and misleading but actually in fact, libelous as to the BBB reviews of CGI Communications. I look forward to your reply and your correction.

    • The website indeed had those reviews when we posted this piece. It must have changed since then. We did notice more positive reviews posted since this story went up.

      I will get in touch with BBB to see why he website changed.

      We didn’t post comments from a few disgruntled employees. We talked to 8 people, who have similar stories and corroborate each other. Since then, we’ve heard from many, many more. We may do a follow-up.

      Rachel

      • Alton Baird says:

        Again let me be clear. There were NEVER 17 negative reviews on BBB. And now you are inferring that somehow BBB altered their own content? There were and are over 90% positive reviews. Again, please check your research and numbers…the only 17 was in reference to complaints; and to re-state, that is 17 complaints with tens of thousands of pleased customers and communities. Businesses can only pray for success like that. I still can barely believe you just inferred BBB altered their own content. Trying to digest that Whopper. By all means give them a call–Love to hear the outcome but my guess is we won’t hear about their reply.

        8 disgruntled employees? Out of 100’s? Wow, having run my business for well over 25 years that is a wonderful ratio. No one is forced to work at CGI–They do so out of their own free will and many stay for decades and decades.

          • Alton Baird says:

            That is exactly the website I have been referring to–The BBB website. The one you inferred had been somehow altered in your earlier reply.

            Rachel, did you actually read my comments? I would think as someone who considers themselves a journalist you would have carefully read the messaging before responding. I clearly stated that there were 17 complaints (replied to) over 31 years with thousands and thousands of satisfied clients and communities. What does that have to do with reviews? You are still conflating complaints with reviews. They are 2 completely different items. You incorrectly stated there are 17 negative reviews and then you claimed the BBB may have changed their own website somehow. Of course, as you know that will be easy to check with BBB and internet history which will be interesting to them when they get the message.

            Once again with feeling–There are 34 reviews–31 Positive and 3 Negative. Count them up on the BBB site. Your misleading writing even had another reader believing there were 17 bad reviews when there are actually only 3 bad reviews. You seem intelligent–All you have to do is total up the reviews and you will clearly see there are only 3 negative ones out of 34. 90% Positive. What would a reasonable person (legal defitinition) draw from your article? They would infer the incorrect conclusion that there are 17 negative reviews, when in fact there are only 3. Please re-read my messages and correct your article and your replies. I am truly hoping you will clarify in your article that there are only 3 negative reviews not 17.

          • I read many complaints on the BBB website. I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’ve made your point on this subject of the BBB website, and I won’t approve more comments about it. People can judge for themselves. – Rachel

        • The 18 reviews are from the last 3 years. It says so on the website. All the complaints are exactly the same as what former employees have described, aggressive sales tactics, unethical business practices, etc. I worked there for six years. It’s all true.

    • This is pretty funny. “Eric” from CGI miraculously had 5 positive reviews all posted to the BBB website on 2/19/2018. That just happens to be the day after this article was posted by Rochester For All. As I now read the BBB website, there are 34 customer reviews with 17 customer complaints. Good work “Eric”. You deserve a raise

  16. Anonymous says:

    Eric is a VP at CGI Communications. Upper management, including Eric, have been instructed to post positive employee reviews to combat the negative critics against CGI. This is the same tactic the company uses to post positive reviews for its BBB rating, various clients in the US, and any other area where CGI’s integrity may be jeopardized. I know this, because as a former employee for years, I was also asked to do this.

  17. I am a retired employee from CGI, being with the company for over 27 years. Having worked for 3 other sales companies in the the past before CGI, this company ranked right at the top as far as training ,compensation and work /life balance. I’ve had other CEO’s that make Mr Barto look like Mother Teresa. Sales are not an easy living, CGI always wanted the best out of it’s employees and some just didn’t measure up,that’s the reason they are no longer with the company. As far as using “his own dime” to build CGI. The company got a loan to grant from the city, it was based on bringing jobs downtown. When we moved downtown there where 35 of us, now there’s close to 300, many of whom make above average incomes, as young people.CGI’s commitment to the city has been unwavering, CGI’s BBB rating is A+,show me a sales company that has NO complaints, look at how complaints are handled and resolved. I think our record speaks for itself, with as many clients CGI has. Also our renewal % FAR exceeds industry averages, so someone must like what we do. It frustrates me when i read comments from ex-employees that I know are just not true, but that’s social media these days, you can say whatever you want, it doesn’t have to be true. CGI will continue to give young people an opportunity,continue to bring jobs downtown and continue to help businesses. I guess that you don’t tell the whole story upsets those of us that been with the company for years, not a mention of the jobs created, about the donations to local veteran groups, about CGI’s commitment to downtown!!

  18. It’s not surprising that the reviews would change suddenly on the BBB website as that’s what a division of CGI does, manage on-line reputation. This article is spot on, the CEO along with most of the executive team were pigs and tyrants to say the least. This was my first job out of college and I figured that this type of culture was normal until I started at a new company shortly after leaving CGI.

    On Fridays you could leave early but only if you joined the CEO at the bar for company happy hour. It was routine for him to be posted up at the bar telling stories. The Monday morning meetings that are referenced mirrored The Wolf of Wallstreet. The CEO would yell and brag about how much money he made or what he did over the weekend. I also sat in on several meetings where he directly harassed employees, if this was a public company he would have been fired years ago. Several other female employees I worked with took complaints to HR, they were either terminated shortly after or nothing came of the complaints.

    Unfortunately this article is just he tip of the iceberg and the company and its culture are much worse than depicted here. In the late 2000’s they fired one of their sales managers for sexually harassing a newly hired female employee. After driving her home from a company happy hour he leaned in to kiss her and when she pulled back he said “It’s the CGI way”. He has since been rehired and is a sales executive with the company now. The President of the company, who is married, would also text young female employees on weekend nights asking them to hang out. There was also numerous instances of sexual harassment that went on during the company cruise, the CEO and executives would try to hit on and have sex with female employees who were invited to attend.

    It’s about time more people came forward about this company and the bullies that run it. In today’s climate I’m shocked that more women haven’t come forward in regards to the culture carried on and supported by Bob and the executive team. In regards to the people commenting with positive things on here, it’s pretty easy to tell who they are and that they still work there. They say that only disgruntled ex-employees are coming forward and trying to smear the company however I left on my own terms and didn’t realize what a mess of a company it was until I worked somewhere else and realized that it’s not normal behavior that goes on there. Drug use, sex in the office and employees drunk in the office were regular occurrences. A commentor also mentioned that these people were “snowflakes”, obviously he’s an employee there as well. There’s a huge difference between a tough, competitive work environment and the environment at CGI. Each new class of hires is typically about 10 people and of those 10, sometimes 1 or 2 will make it beyond 6mos. I think that reflects more on the company than the people they are hiring and then tossing aside.

    If people working there now are in the same situation I was in, it’s unlikely they’d speak out in fear of retaliation or losing their job. I worked here right out of college so I as terrified of losing my job even though it only paid in the 20k range. When your wages are so low you ensure that employees are reliant on you and won’t come forward with problems for fear of losing their job. I really hope this gets more traction, companies like this do not deserve the tax dollars of the city of Rochester, especially when there are so many more deserving local businesses.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I know several people who work at CGI. They all rave about how much they enjoy what they do (something that is rarely seen nowdays).

    CGI has offered many of my friends the opportunity to buy first homes and start families in their 20s while other friends of mine are living with their parents still.

    When asked about this article, ive found while some of them have heard of these stories from the company’s past, they no longer uphold today and that CGI is a much different and far better company than it was 10 years ago. Would be interesting to hear from current/ recent employees instead of the examples on the article that are a decade or so old.

  20. Alton Bairds Mom says:

    Worked here until 2 years ago, so the “anonymous” poster directly above me can take my word that this article is about 97% true, at least from what happened from 2013-2016. Alton Baird is A FOOL likely being told by executives to upvote the BBB website with positive reviews, a common tactic we’d often be instructed to do on various consumer reporting sites or even CGI’s own Google page. That’s their strategy. They also use Verizon mobile hotspot devices (mifis) that will generate random IP addresses so that when you wirelessly connect your PC to them, your fake posts appear to be from somewhere else geographically in the United States. Except in late 2014, when there were so many posts that the devices became increasingly ineffective and were honing in on Rochester, NY as the IP address. That resulted in Google deleting and flagging the aforementioned fake reviews that Next ad agency posted to businesses Google+pages. I witnessed a manager then instruct another employee to find a way to circumvent the IP address scrambling. I maintained a detailed excel file with all my hundreds of fake Google accounts. It’s pretty easy to register them. Add a few stock photos, Google thinks it’s a legit person . Make the address from various states. I could post to a business in any state or Canada with accounts that appeared to be from that state. It was hilariously sketch. Company sucks. Still waiting on that statement from CGI. They’re too busy posting counteractive reviews. Also, I’m posting this comment with one of the email accounts i created.

  21. Anonymous II says:

    I worked for this company as recent as last year. While things have toned down to a degree, these stories are absolutely, unequivocally true.

  22. S. Williams says:

    Anyone defending CGI is without a doubt still employed there.
    Looking at the company website you can see their exec’s names match a lot of the commentors.
    Being a former employee, I’m happy to finally see a lot of this come to light.
    Right now the last thing we need is to provide $1.5 million to businesses such as this.
    Offhanded comments to employees are one thing but this sounds pretty serious.

    Some of these stories may be false or embellished however even if a fraction are true, that’s an issue.
    People in the comment section seem to offer up even more tales which are cause for concern.
    Right now I’d love to know the status of that $1.5 million
    And to hear what the mayor has to say about this article.
    You can’t objectively read this and not have a raised
    Eyebrow. I
    Don’t think this is a stand up business that properly represents the city of Rochester.

    Post all the comments you want saying this isn’t a bad work environment but
    Offices like this are being exposed more and more today. Rachel, you’ve
    Outdone yourself.
    Please do a follow up article if possible.

  23. You keep mentioning that you did reach out to CGI for comment, but with no success. No matter how CGI may have responded to you, there would have been some negative take on it I’m sure. These days, is there any way that a business can appropriately and truthfully respond to the media that doesn’t involve some robotic, politically correct statement? Perhaps, in cases involving hearsay and rumors, having no response is the most professional statement that can be made.

  24. Thankfully an ex employee says:

    Reading through the comments and we haven’t even begun to touch the iceberg this company has been able to hide for so long. Current CGI employees- you have no idea what else has gone on there or who you’re working for. You are brain washed if you truly believe in this man and these business practices. Over the years these men have done a great job at covering things up and shutting people up. CGI is very lucky they have gotten away with what they have thus far (legally, harassment wise, drugs, and business practices) and for their trusty attorney Pete Peterson to keep them out of trouble. Remember – what goes around comes back around. We will keep waiting for that news story to break regarding the illegal and aggressive soliciting and shovinistic values that CGI is built on. Karma is overdue for Bob Barto and his army of minions.

  25. Jennifer Lynn Powers says:

    I am
    an ex employee of CGI Communications never once have i experienced any of the above . Bob Barto is only human like the rest of us and only treated me with respect all times . Maybe the people who were fired from CGI for lack of performance meaning ” your not any good at sales ” should go down the road to Dial America were i can assure you therr wont be recognition like cruises and fun after a large sales day . Give me a break this article is a joke . These are all allegations from people who clearly want money or are simply jealous of the man and his success .

    • Would not surprise me if Barto wrote this comment. Anyone who has worked here in the last decade has heard or seen these things go on and if you say you haven’t then you’re clearly lying or trying to protect the company image.

  26. This is all completely accurate. So many awful things happened while I worked there. I was desperate, in debt, and needed a job for 8months before I could go back to school for my Masters. The last straw was a Christmas party where Bob got drunk, screamed at people for stealing from him and started smashing things. Younger, female employees were groped all evening. The Monday meetings were exactally like people described- abuse sessions. We all knew how unethical the business part was. I even researched, from the work computer, previous lawsuits to see if I could do something about it. In the end I was young, 100k in debt to college and desperate. This company exploits recent grads. It exploits women and grossly misrepresents themselves to their clients. I’d be happy to talk about my experience on the record. Feel free to contact me. The women and men abused by this company have been quiet for too long. We’re older, we know better, we shouldn’t be afraid.

  27. Anonymous says:

    CGI is an old boys club.

    I worked for CGI for 2 years; the worst two years of my life. I can honestly say everything above is spot on. Upon being hired we were spoon fed “success stories” from various VPs and Executives within the company to make us believe we could move up and increase our pay (which started from $11-12 an hour). At first I was able to ride the high of having a new job and working as hard as I could to get a promotion or pay raise, but I quickly found out these positions and pay raises were given to the “favorites” and the people who would party with the boss – regardless of skill and hard work.

    The sales team consists of execs who deceive and manipulate their clients just to get a sale. I cannot count how many times I saw a sales exec change a contract after it was signed or just completely disregard the details of a contract. Often times the account managers will have to clean up the messes made by the sales teams. The entire time I worked for this company I felt horrible for the small companies who would sign up thinking this would change their business, but were taken advantage of and lied to. Account managers were forced to side with the sales team over their clients and if you tried to advocate for your clients you could bet you would have a target on your back.

    The only way to keep your sanity and job at this place is to drink the kool aide, otherwise you will be fired. Oh by the way, before they fire you they will purposely try and make your life a living hell and bully you – hoping you will quit just so they don’t have to pay unemployment. There are SO MANY good people and employees working there, but upper management makes you feel like you will not find another job and CGI is all you have. You’re constantly made to live in fear of losing your job – classic signs of an abusive relationship.

    The people you work with are the only GOOD thing about this place and much of the reason so many people stay as long as they do. There are even a few managers and VPs who really do feel bad about what is going on there, but stay because they are being paid well and can’t go against the owner because they’ll be fired.

    So much lying, sexual harassment, drug use, narcissism and favoritism. If you want to make a difference and help your clients – this is not the place to do it. I’m sure any female who has worked here has a story of harassment.

  28. Keith says:

    I can say from my time there that this is 100% accurate and is only the tip of the iceberg. The problem is that CGI is an online reputation management company and will have a team dedicated to posting positive reviews on this article and any others that portray them in an negative light. Take the positive reviews here with a grain of salt as they are most likely employees tasked with posting them. As another comment mentioned this, I can also corroborate the use of Mifi’s and VPNs to generate random IP addresses and geolocations to post positive reviews for clients. It would also not be unheard of for team members to post negative reviews on establishments that either turned down their service, or prior to meeting with establishments to demonstrate the need for online reputation management. The business practices are very shady and, in my opinion, unethical.

    It’s important to know how poorly they treat the women at this company. Ask any young, attractive woman who’s worked at the company for more than a year (if they exist) and you’ll hear horror stories. I had one friend who worked there who refused to go to after work events because she was afraid of what some of the men would do when drinking or on whatever the drug of the month was. She was legitimately afraid for her safety. Her lack of attendance affected her ability to move up in the company and also affected her pay. For anyone currently at the company, please speak up to the Department of Labor or to someone outside of the company when you see or hear anything. Don’t just bring it to HR. This needs to be documented and the culture there needs to change.

    As a community and people who witnessed what goes on here, we need to get the word out. We know the company will actively fight any negative online reputation. Perhaps we’ll face retaliation but we need to get the word out. We can only counteract the resources that CGI will dedicate to this by doing our part in sharing this article and by not backing down from the truth of what we’ve seen go on there.

  29. Mark Whalberg says:

    Barto is a wanna be high living man who shows off, bet the man has rarely any assets probably has tough time paying property taxes just cuz u drive nice car does not mean ur rich, stop acting rich read the book “the millionaire next door”, real millionaires are frugal don’t show off cars yachts buy big homes live modestly invest, live below there means don’t care how much $ barto proceieves to have because after all these comments and allegation that guy will have major lawsuit or have former and current workers sign non disclosure forms and end up paying out half what he got…good luck with that

  30. Chelsea says:

    This place is a joke. I had a 3 hour interview with them and they offered me a job the next day. I told them I was currently employed somewhere else and needed to give a two week notice. They took back my offer because I couldn’t start right away and told me I had to wait until the next training class and they didn’t know when that was going to be. You’re just another number there and everyone I know that has worked there says it’s a shady business and highly underpaid. I am new to the Rochester area and everyone said I dodged a bullet by not working there!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I worked here for almost 5 years and left on my own terms for a better opportunity. Unfortunately, I can vouch for a number of these things being accurate. I took the job straight out of college and was just happy to be employed. The pay was in the low 20ks. CGI gets a majority of their employees straight out of college – probably because they’re only ones willing to accept such low pay. It’s a foot in the door or something like that.

    Shortly after I was hired, Barto had an impromptu party in the atrium where we were told we could “drink at 3, or work ’til 5”. I joined the party thinking how cool it was to work some place that allowed us to drink during work hours. I tried slipping out a little after 5 because I had a prior engagement (not to mention it was after work hours), and was completely berated by the CEO in front of the whole company. He holds these “treats” over his employees heads as if we always owe him something in return. And certainly none of these treats could cover up the amount of crap you had to deal with as an employee on a daily basis. My entire department was told on numerous occasions that we were replaceable, that we’d never make more money there. I worked countless hours of unpaid overtime (I was not part of the lawsuit mentioned in the article above). The list goes on…

    Throughout my time there, the CEO was inappropriate and unprofessional. He screamed at his employees in a sad attempt to boost morale. He drunkenly grabbed my face and kissed me at a holiday party. I witnessed him canoodling with several female employees at off-site work events. (He’s married, or was at the time, anyway). I never witnessed it firsthand but heard about several instances of substance abuse involving upper management.

    For those thinking that it’s just a handful of disgruntled former employees, there are plenty more of us. I know several current employees there that have expressed their need to leave that place. I hated going into work every day knowing I was helping line the pockets of such an unethical company. I’m so happy that these things are finally being brought to the surface. It’s about damn time.

  32. I interviewed with this company right after college. I could tell something was off when I walked in there. I was offered the job on the spot and pressured, (read bullied) me into accepting it immediately so I turned it down. Years later I was told that I dodged a bullet from multiple people who had or still worked there. I’ve heard stories of sexual harassment, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and bullying from upper management. From multiple people I’ve been told that there’s a huge drug problem there. My question is, why doesn’t DEA or RPD get involved? From what I’ve been told, they would have a field day rummaging through some of those offices.

  33. Hostile work environment says:

    Anyone want to chime in about Frank Buono’s behavior? He and Barto —->Harvey Weinstein meets Donald Trump!

    • He’s probably as bad as Barto if not worse. He absolutely suffers from anger issues. One minute he’d be talking calmly to you and the next he’d be screaming and spitting. When I was there he was one of the worst offenders of sexual harassment in the workplace. Several of the female employees I worked with showed me texts he sent them on late weekend nights. He’s also married as well, great guy.

  34. Frank says:

    I have worked with Bob Barto for over a decade, it is a sheer miracle that this man is not imprisoned, especially with all of the open sexual harassment going on now in this country. Garbage product, terrible hellish place to work. How hasn’t yelp or google put this place out of business yet?

  35. ​I worked for CGI for many years, straight out of college (years ago) & it’s safe to say a lot of the above shenanigans are true. Not sure how they’re still in business (or why – not even sure what they are producing/selling these days! Can someone “on their side” explain how they truly make money?) Barto is a horrible person. Scare tactics/bullying still seems to be his way. I know others who would say the same about this company. So glad this is all coming out! 😉

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