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2017’s Five Biggest Tech Company Sexual Harassment Scandals

Posted by Kira Fonteneau | Mar 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

Far too many women experience sexual harassment and discrimination in the workforce. When it happens to you, it can be dizzying and confusing. There are so many questions that need to be answered. Worse yet, there are strict limits on how long you can think through what is happening to you before getting help.

For women in Silicon Valley, 2017 has seen a lot of revealing stories about sexual harassment and discrimination in the media. We have gathered a few of the most explosive stories of the year, specifically those involving high-tech startups and their leadership.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson

In November of 2017, Steve Jurveston was pushed out of his own venture capital firm amid widespread reports of “predatory” behavior towards women. Notably, Keri Kukral's Facebook post regarding Jurveston's behavior went viral, leading to a number of questions being asked. Soon, others came forward about the allegedly systemic behavior by Jurveston. Ultimately, as reported by ReCode, he stepped down from his own firm. He had also been a member of the board for Elon Musk's companies, Tesla and SpaceX. Jurveston has since stepped down from both of those, as well.

Betterworks

Betterworks is a continuous platform management company that serves a lot of major operations around the globe. Former CEO Kris Duggan co-founded the company back in 2013. According to Business Insider, he opted to step down after being sued in a California court. The lawsuit was brought by a female employee who claims he made unwanted sexual advances while on a company retreat. Her career at the company ended when she left following the incident.

500 Startup

While the allegations against Jurveston and Duggan center on workplace sexual advances, allegedly used in a coercive manner, Dave McClure, the former chief of 500 Startup, takes this one step further. According to allegations, he forcibly and repeatedly kissed a female executive in 2014. As reporting from Fortune.com explains, the accusations go far behind using power or leverage to induce sexual favors; they directly suggest assault.

Google

The presumptive high-tech leader of the pack, Google, certainly was not immune from scandal in 2017. At least three high-level employees of the company were forced out amid allegations.

First, engineer Amit Singhal left the company to join Uber. However, Uber later discovered reports that sexual harassment allegations during his time at Google were determined by Google's investigators to be credible. This led to his early departure from Uber in February of 2017.

Next, Andy Rubin was the subject of a 2014 investigation at Google due to allegations of inappropriate behavior arising from his relationship with subordinate female employees. While maintaining his innocence, the Android developer took a leave of absence from his company amid the allegations.

Finally, in November of 2017, yet another Google employee was the subject to sexual misconduct allegations. David Drummond, a top attorney at Google, was discovered to have been involved in a lengthy extra-marital affair with a female subordinate. As The Mercury News reports, that female employee has since left the company, yet Drummond remains the chief legal officer for the company's parent corporation, Alphabet, Inc.

Uber

Uber gets first prize. Of course, that is not exactly a lofty prize. Since last June, the tech startup has seen at least 20 firings due to allegations of sexual harassment. Starting with the ousted CEO, Travis Kalanick, the company has been accused of having a ‘locker room' culture that disparages women and leads to a terrible and hostile work environment for female employees. The Chicago Tribune details numerous accounts of female employees being ignored or outright shut down when complaining of sexual advances or worse.

How to Handle Sexual Harassment

While Silicon Valley had a rough year, sexual harassment happens in all types of workplaces.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the primary agency responsible for adjudicating claims under federal civil rights laws, including sexual harassment and discrimination claims. However, you must file a charge for workplace discrimination within 180 days. That means you generally have just six months to consider your options and take action.

Birmingham workplace discrimination lawyers can help you answer these tough questions and give you the tools, resources, and support you need in order to take control of your harassment or discrimination case.

About the Author

Kira Fonteneau

Partner and Managing Attorney of the Alabama Trial Practice Group at Barrett & Farahany Kira Fonteneau is a partner and the managing attorney of the Alabama trial group of Barrett & Farahany. Kira chose to specialize in employment law because she wanted to help employees take back power. ...

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