Virtual reality startup the latest tech company sued for sexual misconduct

Dive Brief:

  • UploadVR joins a list of tech companies charged with sexual harassment and misconduct, BuzzFeedNews and TechCrunch report. Elizabeth Scott, a former director of digital and social media at the virtual reality startup firm, is suing UploadVR for sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination.
  • Scott’s complaint describes a room in the company reserved for sexual activity, daily discussions about graphic sex, a constant barrage of insults and sexual comments against female workers and references to female colleagues as “mommies.”
  • According to BuzzFeedNews, the complaint also says that men sat separately from female coworkers, and relegated the women to “womanly duties” at the office, such as tidying the work areas, cleaning up the kitchen and organizing the refrigerator.

Dive Insight:

The list of alleged sexual misconduct at UploadVR is long, explicit and extremely disturbing. If Scott’s claims are true, the company allowed a culture of open sexual misconduct to not only occur but also to thrive.

This type of culture survives because senior managers either ignore it, condone it or participate in it. Such egregious behavior doesn’t stay hidden for long in the current climate; it’s only a matter of time before employees like Scott or Susan Fowler, formerly at Uber, file suit or publicly reveal the goings-on at their former company.

Uber publicly vowed to overhaul its culture when it faced sexual harassment allegation. Other employers with similar work environments must do the same. For some, particularly in the tech sector, that means giving resources to (or, actually creating) their HR department so that such cases can be handled with proper care. A slew of companies — including those run by women  have learned this the hard way.

Sexual misconduct and sex discrimination go beyond violating the law; such behavior degrades and humiliates workers. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect all workers from unwanted sexual advances and sexual misconduct. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits such behavior in the workplace and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the law.

Filed Under: HR Management Legal