The former chief executive officer of Keller Williams is suing the brokerage and its co-founder for $300 million.
In a lawsuit filed last month, former CEO John Davis claims that after he resigned from that role in 2019, Keller Williams co-founder Gary Keller and former president Josh Team used sexual misconduct allegations against him “to gain business advantages” and “disparage and harm Davis” while negotiating the sale of several regional franchises he owned.
The complaint, first reported by Inman, names the brokerage, Keller, Team and Inga Dow, a Keller Williams franchisee who raised the allegations against Davis earlier this year.
In an amended complaint filed in March, Dow claimed she had been subjected to years of sexual misconduct, harrassment and abuse from Davis and that the Austin, Texas-based brokerage retaliated against her for reporting it. Davis acknowledged having a relationship with Dow from 1998 to 2004, but denied the harassment and abuse allegations as “false, defamatory, and malicious.” Dow’s lawsuit is currently in arbitration.
In his Oct. 27 complaint, Davis claims that Dow’s allegations were weaponized to compel the company to buy her regional franchises for more than their worth. Davis, meanwhile, says he was negotiating a $46 million sale of his regions to another franchisor, only for the deal to be rejected by Keller and Team, who then forced a sale that Davis claims “unfairly enriched” the brokerage and cost him tens of millions of dollars.
The timing of the lawsuit stems from the expiration of a non-disparagement clause, a spokesperson for Davis told Inman. The complaint seeks $300 million on the grounds that Davis has suffered “tremendous damages to his career and reputation, from which he is unlikely to recover.”
A spokesperson for Keller Williams told Inman that Davis’ “attempt to involve Keller Williams in his quest to clear his name is unfortunate,” but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing litigation.
Davis spent more than 20 years with Keller Williams and held the CEO role for two years before exiting in January 2019.
— Holden Walter-Warner