Revisited: ‘The Class The Dollars Fell On’

When they graduated from the Harvard Business School, they took jobs that paid less than $4,000 a year. Yet, every member of the class had in his possession a piece of paper that was rare and exotic: an MBA.

In the spring of 1949, when there were only 3,000 people in the world with MBA degrees, these 653 graduates entered a business world that was filled with promise and opportunity. In due time, through hard work, perseverance and luck, the ‘49ers would not only grasp those opportunities. They would master them, becoming the most successful MBA class in the history of business.

Fortune magazine initially brought notice to the highly accomplished class in a 1974 article on the 25th anniversary of their graduation. By then, the power and influence achieved by its members was nothing less than extraordinary: nearly half of the class had already climbed to the titles of chairman, CEO or chief operating officer. One in five had become millionaires or more.

Many of the men have since passed away, including former Securities & Exchange Chairman John Shad and former Xerox CEO Peter McCollough. Yet, many more are remain alive and vibrant: Johnson & Johnson’s James Burke is now 87; Bloomingdale’s Marvin Traub is now 86, and so is Capital Cities-ABC’s Thomas Murphy and Lester Crown, the former head of General Dynamics whose family holdings include Maytag, Hilton Hotels, New York’s Rockefeller Center and Chicago’s pro basketball team, the Chicago Bulls.

This month, one of two books that chronicled the class’ impact on business and post-war America, is being republished. The Big Time: The Harvard Business School’s Most Successful Class & How It Shaped America, originally published in 1986, was written by Laurence Shames, then a young writer at Esquire who had never tackled a book project before.

The Big Time, recalls Shames, sold much better than he thought it would and garnered a good deal more attention than he expected. The book was excerpted in both Esquire and Playboy. It was favorably reviewed in The New York Times and even made Business Week’s ten-best list for the year.

In retrospect, believes Shames, “many readers were drawn to it in hopes of absorbing at least some of the strong magic of a B-School education; others picked it up for a vicarious glimpse into the glamour of the boardroom and the corner office.”

His portrayal of the class was largely flattering. Shames, then ethics columnist for Esquire, was taken by their passion, enthusiasm, and sense of mission. They profoundly believed in what some would quaintly regard today as traditional business virtues—hard work, sacrifice, loyalty, honesty and humility.

In offering The Big Time to a new audience, says Shames, “his hope is not merely to present a portrait of what seems, increasingly, a faraway time, but to promote a deeper and more nuanced understanding of our own.”

Poets&Quants spoke with the author, who has since published 20 books and hundreds of magazine articles and essays, by telephone from his home in Ojai, California.

Is a book published in 1986 about a Harvard Business School class in 1949 at all relevant to an audience in 2012?

I think so. I really tended to like these guys. It was a fascinating historical moment. About three quarters of the men in the class—and it was all men and all white men—had served in the war. They had this amazing wealth of real life experiences. They were a little bit older. They didn’t necessarily come from fancy undergraduate backgrounds. They had a sense of life and death. And they had a perspective of how important business was and wasn’t. They saw business in the context of leading a meaningful life and doing something worthwhile.

A big part of the reason I decided to make this book available again is that I feel that as a nation, we don’t have as much of a sense of mission. We don’t have a sense of being a part of something larger than ourselves. One of the things I admired, respected and learned from the ‘49ers is that they did have a sense of being part of something that was larger than themselves.

It was the American moment. America had just won the war. America was preeminent economically and becoming more so. And these guys really believed in the country and in our economy in their bones. It was not a phony stance. Without question, they wanted to make a lot of money. If they didn’t, they would have picked different schools. But it wasn’t only about making money. It was about participating and contributing to this idea of an expanding America. I found that very attractive and very moving. I like to think there is something of value today for younger people who are in business schools now or who are hoping to go to business school.

  • Lee Mulcahy PhD

    Ex-ski instructor Mulcahy wants to post lawsuit proceedings on YouTube

    by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

    Friday, April 19, 2013

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    The former ski instructor who is suing the head of the Aspen Skiing Co. plans to videotape pretrial testimony from the CEO, other senior employees and members of the family that owns the company, and put the footage on YouTube.

    That’s according to a court filing by CEO Mike Kaplan’s attorney, who wants a judge to block Aspen resident Lee Mulcahy from posting the depositions he takes on the video website.

    The lawyer, Edward Ramey of Denver, filed the motion on April 11, the day Mulcahy was to depose Kaplan and others in the Pitkin County Library. The depositions now are delayed until the court rules on the request.

    Attorneys not associated with the case said Mulcahy has a right to post the depositions if he first files them with the court system as part of his lawsuit, which is a public record.

    Mulcahy sued Kaplan for libel in February 2012, about a year after Mulcahy was fired. Mulcahy contends he was let go for filing two charges against SkiCo with the National Labor Relations Board.

    He also distributed fliers on SkiCo properties over the Christmas holidays in 2010 that faulted the company’s owners, the Crown family, and its policies on instructor pay.

    SkiCo officials, however, maintain that it was not those acts, nor the NLRB charges, that led to the dismissal of Mulcahy, who also is banned from all SkiCo property, including the four ski mountains.

    In an email to SkiCo employees in early February 2011, Kaplan said Mulcahy used the low-wage argument to cover up inappropriate behavior as an instructor.

    The previous year, Mulcahy, a 15-year instructor who was part of SkiCo’s elite Diamond Pros group of teachers, took a class of young girls out of bounds and cursed at them, Kaplan wrote in a letter to the editor.

    Both Aspen papers published Kaplan’s missive, which also said that in April 2010, a SkiCo guest “notified us that Lee charged a private lesson to his credit card without [the guest’s] authorization.”

    Mulcahy’s lawsuit says the statements about both incidents are false and defamatory. He is representing himself.

    An April 9 Facebook posting and subsequent statements by Mulcahy prompted the protective order motion, Ramey wrote.

    “Plaintiff stated on April 10 that it is his intention to conduct a video deposition of the defendant, simply ‘turn it in to the court as a public record,’ and then distribute it on the internet,” Ramey’s motion says. “Upon expression of concern by [me], plaintiff further advised on April 11 that, ‘Of course I’m going to put Mike Kaplan on YouTube — he’s going to come there and look at me with a straight face and lie to me, and I want the world to see.”

    Civil procedures allow a judge to “make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden …,” the motion says.

    Aspen attorney Joe Krabacher, who is not affiliated with the case, said that absent a court order preventing Mulcahy from posting the depositions he takes online, he is free to do so.

    “Once [a deposition] is filed with the court, it’s fair game,” he said. “Lawsuits are public.”

    Ramey described Mulcahy as a “highly disgruntled former employee” of SkiCo who wants to abuse the deposition process to embarrass and ridicule the defendants and others who have been subpoenaed.

    Ramey said he initially asked Mulcahy to not make any “ … visual or sound recordings of any depositions in the case,” and to limit the records of those depositions to stenographic transcripts to be used only in the official context of the case. Mulcahy did not agree to the stipulations.

    In most lawsuits, at least at the federal level, both sides agree early on to those types of parameters, said Denver employment attorney Tom Arckey, who is also not part of the lawsuit.

    But he said similar use of social media by litigants is increasing.

    “It can be a two-edged sword,” Arckey said. “If the testimony is credible, it may backfire on the plaintiff.”

    Mulcahy wrote on his Facebook page that he expects Judge Daniel Petre of the 9th Judicial District to rule on the issue in June.———————————————————————————————————-

    Judge denies SkiCo dismissal motion in ex-instructor lawsuitby Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

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    An Aspen man whose lawsuit alleges that the Aspen Skiing Co. and its owners are violating his First Amendment rights scored a victory earlier this month when a judge denied the company’s motion to dismiss the filing.

    Senior Judge Thomas Ossola of Pitkin County District Court upheld Lee Mulcahy’s lawsuit against SkiCo, citing greater free speech protections afforded under the Colorado Constitution compared to the U.S. Constitution.

    Mulcahy, a former ski instructor who was fired in 2011 after he distributed fliers to guests in the SkiCo-owned Little Nell hotel and in gondola plaza criticizing the ski school’s pay policies, sued the company and its owners, Paula and James Crown in February. He claims he was fired as retaliation for that move and for discussing instructor unionization.

    In addition to firing Mulcahy — the SkiCo maintains he was dismissed for work-performance issues unrelated to the fliers and unionization discussion — the company banned him from all of its properties and from the four ski areas, land it leases from the U.S. Forest Service.

    Mulcahy, who is representing himself and who also has an ongoing, separate libel lawsuit against SkiCo CEO Mike Kaplan, argued that the ban from public lands violates his right to free speech.

    He wrote in the lawsuit that he and others similarly situated will be “chilled and burdened” in the exercise of First Amendment rights because of the continued threat of arrest on public property.

    SkiCo’s attorney, Lila Bateman of Denver, had contended that the lawsuit should be dismissed because Mulcahy’s allegations were not supported by sufficient facts.

    Bateman argued that claims under the First Amendment only apply to “state actors” and that SkiCo is not engaged in state action.

    “To state a violation of the First Amendment, plaintiff must either allege that SkiCo is a state actor, or that its private property is nevertheless a designated public forum,” says Bateman’s motion to dismiss.

    Ossola, though, disagreed, citing a case from the early 1990s involving a Front Range shopping mall.

    “While [SkiCo] relies primarily on federal case law to support its position, Article II, Section 10 of the Colorado Constitution provides greater protections for free speech than does the First Amendment,” Ossola wrote in his Oct. 3 ruling.

    Ossola cited Bock v. Westminster Mall Co., in which the state supreme court held that Section 10 applied to the privately owned shopping mall.

    The case involved two members of a political association known as “The Pledge of Resistance” who sought and were denied permission to distribute their pamphlets and to solicit protest signatures in the mall’s common areas.

    In ruling that the Colorado Constitution protected the Resistance members’ free-speech rights, the state high court “based its holding on the fact that there was governmental involvement with the mall’s operation and the mall also functioned as a ‘downtown business district,’” Ossola wrote.

    Mulcahy’s lawsuit alleges that SkiCo holds much of its ski properties as a tenant of the federal government and that it also owns nearly 50 percent of the commercial property in and around downtown Aspen.

    When these allegations are construed in a light most favorable to Mulcahy — as Ossola must do by law when deciding the merits of a motion to dismiss — the judge found that, if true, they “could support a free speech claim under Article II, Section 10 to the extent that [SkiCo] may qualify as a ‘downtown business district’ under Bock,” the ruling says. “It is also possible that the level of governmental involvement with [SkiCo’s] operations could further support a free speech claim under Bock.”

    Bateman did not return a message about the ruling. Asked for comment, Mulcahy wrote in an email: “The Crowns do a tremendous amount for their kingdom but the problem is greed and abuse of power. Aspen is not Versailles nor is it their feudal kingdom.”

  • “It was about participating and contributing to this idea of an expanding America.” Huh?

    Lester Crown might be one of the greediest Americans I have ever encountered. Why?

    Mulcahy faces trespassing charge for serving lawsuit

    Former ski instructor taped court summons on door of Skico’s headquarters
    Scott Condon
    The Aspen Times
    Aspen, CO, Colorado

    ASPEN — The battle between a former ski instructor and Aspen Skiing Co. took another odd twist Thursday when Lee Mulcahy received a summons for third-degree trespass after he taped a court notice onto a door at the firm’s headquarters.

    Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Levi Borst determined the trespass charge, a petty offense, was warranted because Mulcahy had been warned previously to stay off Skico property, according to an incident report. Mulcahy was banned from all Skico property when he was fired as a ski instructor in February 2011.

    Mulcahy said he was simply trying to deliver a revised court summons for a lawsuit he filed against Jim and Paula Crown, members of the family that owns Skico. The lawsuit was initially filed in Pitkin County District Court. It was refiled in Pitkin County Court. Once it was refiled, Mulcahy was obligated to inform the Crowns.

    “Being white trash, I was trying to save the money by taping the revision to the door” at Skico headquarters at 117 Aspen Airport Business Center, Mulcahy said.

    In his lawsuit against the Crowns, Mulcahy is seeking to overturn the ban and damages of $1.

    Earlier, Mulcahy tried to serve the revised summons by handing it to a Skico employee and asking her to take it inside, according to the incident report. The employee wouldn’t help. So Mulcahy decided to tape the summons to an outside door at Skico offices. He said he had a 6-foot pole made from PVC pipe with him in case he needed an extension to avoid trespassing. However, he said he thought he was on a public sidewalk to a side door at Skico headquarters, so he walked up and taped the notice to the door.

    Skico Senior Vice President and attorney Dave Bellack contacted the sheriff’s department about Mulcahy’s actions later Thursday. He reported the incident as a harassment because of Mulcahy’s efforts to convince a Skico employee to take in the revised summons.

    Mulcahy said he was contacted by a deputy at his home after he returned home Thursday night from bible study at an Aspen church. He requested that the deputy go to Skico headquarters with him to see if he actually trespassed on Skico property. Mulcahy said he will investigate whether he was on a public easement as part of his defense. The door opens to a parking lot that doesn’t belong to Skico, he said.

    Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said Skico had no comment about the incident.

    Mulcahy claimed he was the victim in the incident. It shows how Skico “bullies the little guy,” he said.

    “Should I expect this kind of disrespectful treatment from billionaires Jim and Paula Crown for pointing out they’re limousine liberals …. for questioning their ban?” he said.

    Mulcahy has a running battle against Skico over the wages paid to beginning ski instructors and other lower tier employees. Mulcahy wants Skico to pay what he calls a living wage.

    Mulcahy was fired by Skico in February 2011. The company said it was for multiple infractions of company policy. Mulcahy claimed it was because he criticized company practices and talked to other instructors about forming a union.

    He tried to get his job back by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) but was not reinstated. The NLRB did require Skico to restructure its ski school structure so that management didn’t participate on employee grievance boards. Skico was also required to specifically inform employees it was within their rights to explore formation of a union.

    Mulcahy said his fight with his former employer is over freedom of speech. In addition to his lawsuit against the Crowns, he filed a libel lawsuit earlier this year against Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan for comments Kaplan made at the time of Mulcahy’s firing.

    Mulcahy is supposed to appear in county court May 1 for the trespass case. He said he will try to get the hearing postponed because he will be in Africa installing water wells as part of a interfaith community volunteer project.
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————From Aspen Peak:

    FYI: I’m not a criminal, just a loud mouthed Texan who believes in freedom: ————–> Renaissance Man: How Aspen gave pro skier Lee Mulcahy a raison d’etre. By Jennifer Sherman.

    Like many avid skiers, Lee Mulcahy started young. The pro skier strapped on his first pair of skis when he was 6 years old and 3 decades later he’s still on the slopes-and in grand style. Mulcahy took first place in the Colorado Zebulon Ski/Snowboard Crossover in February 2005 and is one of the most frequently requested ski and snowboard instructors at the Ski School of Aspen.

    His accomplishments don’t stop there: Mulcahy is an artist in residence at the Anderson Art Center in Snowmass, and placed sixth at the US Nationals for Mountain Boarding-X in 2003 and seventh in 2005. He windsurfs, mountain bikes, camps, canoes, white-water kayaks, and does freestyle backflips on skis and a snowboard; he appeared on CBS’s The Amazing Race and The Rosie O’Donnell Show; and he serves on the Aspen Historical Society’s board of trustees.

    Did we mention the Ph.D? Mulcahy moved to Aspen/Snowmass when he was 25, after wrapping up the coursework for his doctorate in 19th century French art and literature. “I thought, What a wonderful place to get away and write [my dissertation], says the Dallas-born, Fort Worth-raised athlete. “Problem is, there’s so much to do here. I could write… or go mountain biking. Finishing took a little longer than I thought it would.”

    After completing his dissertation four years later, Mulcahy decided to make the Aspen area his permanent home. “The thought of unloading off Chair 4-the Burn Chair-at Snowmass early in the morning on a big, silent powder day, or the camaraderie at the front of the line at the Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain, was too tempting he says. “The money’s not great, but I don’t see stopping.”


    One year for Father’s Day, two of Lester Crown’s daughters unknowingly sent him identical cards with the greeting “I worship the water you walk on.”-Chicago Tribune

    Open letter to billionaire Lester Crown,

    Dear Lester, – I read you gave $1000.00 to Tea Party darling Michelle Bachmann who hates your boy, Obama. Divide and conquer. Old as time.

    I told my neighbor about it—he laughed and said he’s happy he’s got his concealed weapon permit already. He believes we can’t have the 1st amendment without the 2nd. I agree—the 2nd is designed to prevent us from the kind of tyranny you are defending. What’s the Golden Rule?

    Before you shrug Loren’s violent suggestions off, how come the fact that our President is calling Yemen to keep a journalist in jail? ?

    Our President made a call to the to the President of Yemen to express his concern on Yemen’s release of the journalist who reported on the targeted strike by the Tomahawk Missile the President denies ordering that killed 35 kids and women. When did General Dynamics introduce the Tomahawk? The greater the fraud…

    The net is completely revolutionary —no wonder DC wants to pass internet laws. It’s like the Wild West-freedom. It’s the great equalizer for little people. Don’t believe me—google your name and lying crook.

    A friend of mine at church in Aspen [not from TX] told me her friends in Houston ask her about me. I hope your failure of a CEO told you I’m donating my damages to water wells in Africa. Bombs pay for clean water.

    Did you see my Institute brief with the Glenn Greenwald quote? No? “In a world where torturers, illegal eavesdroppers, bankers, and telecoms were punished for their crimes, I’d have no objection to prosecuting Bradley Manning. The nature of civil disobedience is not that you claim the right to break the law without punishment, but that you deliberately subject yourself to punishment as a means of protesting unjust laws and practices…. But we’re not in that world. We’re in a world where the most powerful are able to commit the most egregious crimes with impunity. That’s because the law is exploited as a weapon to shield and entrench power, and severely punish those who challenge it.-Glenn Greenwald, GuardianUK columnist, recently quoted by Rand Paul.

    Strike that for a win on free speech eventually….otherwise, it’s great PR for an artist.

    And it’s just gonna get worse for you by August for the banning for a buck trial.

    Everyone knows you’re a bully; not so many people know you got caught for bribery and then lied to Congress. I’ll have to do a painting on you 2.

    At least we can laugh about it.

    Lee Mulcahy, artist, peon.

  • ups

    SkiCo CEO: Former instructor is a public figure
    by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff WriterWednesday, March 21, 2012

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    Email this StoryKaplan files answer in libel suit from Mulcahy, who is also suing Crowns
    The CEO of the Aspen Skiing Co. says a libel lawsuit brought against him by a former ski instructor should be dismissed because the plaintiff is a public figure, according to a court filing.The attorney for Mike Kaplan filed a response Monday to Lee Mulcahy’s lawsuit in Pitkin County District Court. It says the plaintiff “is a public figure by virtue of his involvement in matters of public interest or general concern.”Mulcahy on Friday also sued Paula and James Crown, SkiCo’s owners, in Pitkin County Court seeking to overturn his company-imposed ban that prevents him from using ski lifts or otherwise stepping foot on SkiCo properties like restaurants. The lawsuit against the Crowns also seeks $1.The war of words between Mulcahy and SkiCo began in November 2010, when the instructor filed two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). He claimed the company had violated federal labor law in restructuring its ski school and by removing him from an elite team of instructors as retaliation for discussing unionization. Mulcahy has been banned from the ski areas and all company-owned property since Dec. 30, 2010, when he distributed fliers to guests in the SkiCo-owned Little Nell hotel and in gondola plaza. The material criticized the ski school’s pay policies. He was also suspended with pay starting that day and told that the company would press trespassing charges if he violated the ban. He was fired Jan. 31, 2011.But Kaplan’s answer says, as the CEO wrote in a letter to the editor in February 2011, that Mulcahy was fired for performance reasons unrelated to his NLRB complaints or his union-organizing actions. The NLRB upheld the dismissal.The CEO acknowledges the claim in Mulcahy’s lawsuit that SkiCo changed certain workplace policies as a result of the settlement between the company and the NLRB.Mulcahy’s suit, filed Feb. 1, says that numerous “federally mandated changes in the SkiCo’s employee handbook concerning protected freedom of speech and the ski school’s actual structure were required.” One change was “the conclusion of SkiCo’s ‘Team Leader’ program that was established to improve communications between SkiCo ski instructors and management …,” according to Kaplan’s filing.Mulcahy, who had been a SkiCo instructor since 1996, claims that Kaplan’s statements to company employees and in letters to the editor about him were false and defamatory.Kaplan wrote that Mulcahy’s performance infractions included taking a class of young girls out of bounds and using abusive language toward them, and charging a private lesson to a customer’s credit card without authorization.The lawsuit says Kaplan acted with “reckless or callous indifference” to Mulcahy’s protected rights, and it seeks $15,001 because the plaintiff sustained “a great financial loss” in 2011.Kaplan, who has enlisted Denver attorneys Edward Ramey and Lila Bateman, denies those allegations. Bateman wrote in the answer that Kaplan’s letters contained both the truth and statements of opinion, and that he “has a qualified privilege to make the alleged statements.”Neither attorney returned messages asking them to elaborate on the “matters of public interest or general concern” that allegedly make Mulcahy a public figure. The burden of proof in defamation lawsuits is higher for public figures.Mulcahy also did not return a message seeking comment.In the lawsuit against the Crowns, Mulcahy says his ban is illegal.“Plaintiff and others similarly situated will be chilled and burdened in the exercise of his First Amendment rights because of the continued threat of arrest on public property,” wrote Mulcahy, who is representing himself. “The ban is unconstitutionally overbroad [sic] in that it renders subject to incarceration and other treatment persons who are critical of the Crowns or the SkiCo.”SkiCo spokesman Jeff Hanle declined comment Tuesday.The SkiCo leases much of the land it uses from the U.S. Forest Service. Because the four ski mountains are under the company’s purview, it contends it can ban Mulcahy from even hiking on national forest land….

  • Uptonsinclair8

    Lester Crown also owns the Aspen Skiing Company [Skico]

    Ski-town song hits sour note
    speaking out snowballs in AspenCompany retaliates, Aspen Skiing employee alleges in labor complaint
    December 11, 2010|By Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune reporterThis dust-up started nearly a year ago on New Year’s Day at a tavern in Aspen, Colo. A table of locals wanted to hear singer Dan Sheridan play his most popular song, “Big Money.”He was taken aback, but he strummed his guitar and sang:I think big money sucksPlease write that down

    Please take a look what it did to this townTrophy houses, trophy wives, trophy people leading trophy lives.The following Monday, Sheridan was fired.The next day, The Aspen Times published a front-page story about what happened. Turned out, an executive of Aspen Skiing Co., Sheridan’s employer, was in the room with his children. He didn’t like the lyrics and complained to the company’s director of food and beverage.The company has said the song was inappropriate to the venue and the audience, but that didn’t sit well with people who live in the town. Some fired off letters to the local papers supporting Sheridan and called for a boycott of Aspen Skiing, which is owned by Chicago billionaire Lester Crown and his family.On Jan. 7, the company said it had made a mistake in firing the singer and offered him his job back, adding that it had misinterpreted the executive’s complaint and had acted hastily.Sheridan didn’t take the offer but continued playing music in town.The tale, however, didn’t end there.In May, Edward Lee Mulcahy, a ski instructor, wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing his employer, Aspen Skiing, for its corporate mentality: “(T)he customer is always right, no matter when they are wrong.”He gave an example: The driver of a private shuttle wouldn’t offer a ride to skiers at a public bus stop on a day it was snowing because he was afraid his wealthy customers would complain and he would get fired. He went on to say that the person who fired Sheridan, the singer, didn’t understand the community.At the same time, Mulcahy said in his letter he was lucky to work for Aspen Skiing.”No one that works on the mountain or for the school would ever fire me for expressing my views or not fitting into their preconceived box,” he wrote.But last month Mulcahy filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging Aspen Skiing retaliated against him for writing to the newspaper, and later, for sending e-mails to fellow instructors about “wages and discussions about unionization.”Mulcahy alleges he was removed as a Diamond Pro instructor and was told he wouldn’t get a ski pass, which would keep him from working as an instructor.Aspen Skiing said in a written statement last week that Mulcahy filed unfair labor practice charges.”We maintain that we have acted within the law,” the statement says. “Once these matters have been reviewed by the board, we believe that we will be found to have acted fairly and in the best interests of all of our employees.”