There may be sighs of relief today at the Bay Area’s most allegedly sexually toxic work environments like Uber and Zenefits, because another “condoms and sex in the workplace” scandal has arrived to bump their harassment issues from the headlines. TechCrunch broke the news Monday that local virtual reality startup UploadVR has been served with a sexual harassment, sex and gender discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit from their recently departed social media director. The suit names some notables tech bros of whom you may have heard, including co-founders Taylor Freeman and Will Mason, who were recently named in Forbes' 30 Under 30 list, and whose behavior described definitely sounds "Under 30."
The allegations in the harassment suit and we’ve summarized all the most shocking ones below involve litanies of entitled male behavior, including constant workplace commentary on female employees’ bodies, male employees’ masturbation habits with regards to their female colleagues, the ordering of “submissive, Asian women” for international business trips, coerced workplace drug use, and onsite “kink room” at UploadVR headquarters.
I’ve heard of some bad conference room names, but that one is ridiculous.
The thing about Revenge of the Nerds: the nerds didn't want things to be better.— Nash (@Nash076) May 16, 2017
They just wanted to be in charge. https://t.co/GqgG00SCiT
The plaintiff’s summons is posted online, but we’ve gone through and picked out the most obscene, licentious, and interesting details for public consumption. While the suit names only CEO Taylor Freeman, President Will Mason and UploadVR as defendants, a careful read of the entire document also mentions hey-o! fired Twitter VR wunderkind Greg Gopman, whom SFist readers will also recognize from his 2013 Facebook rant against the homeless whose negative backlash actually drove the guy (temporarily) out of San Francisco. Gopman does not come across particularly better this time around.
“Greg Gopman’s sex life was a frequent topic of discussion,” the suit alleges. “The other male employees would talk about how he refuses to wear a condom and has had sex with over 1,000 people.”
While that claim may not be credible, in terms of numbers, other particularly offensive, salacious, and depressingly credible-sounding allegations from the suit are listed below:
Male employees stated how they were sexually aroused by female employees and how it was hard to concentrate and be productive when all they could think about was having sex with them. In addition, [one male individual who was not named in the lawsuit], the Expansion Manager of UploadVR, would frequently comment about how attractive one of the female employees was, in Plaintiff’s presence. He would talk about now he “had a boner” and had to go to the bathroom to “rub one out” so he could focus, meaning that he was going to the restroom to masturbate.
While at UploadVR, Defendants required Plaintiff and the other female employees to do what they believed were “womanly tasks.” These tasks included cleaning the kitchen, organizing the refrigerator, and tidying up the work space.
The female employees were also required to clean up after parties. This included whatever condoms or underwear might be left behind. Female employees were called in on their days off to clean up following parties to which they had not even been invited.
Defendants, including Mason and Freeman, would not ask male co-workers to perform these tasks. Instead they emphasized that the women of the office should be like “mommies” to the men and help them with whatever they needed.
Defendant Freeman would comment about how Plaintiff was not the ideal size he likes in a woman that he is going to have sexual relations with. He also made it known that he did not find Plaintiff attractive and that she could not be used for marketing purposes because she was “too big”.
While working at UploadVR, Plaintiff was required to use her personal cell phone for her work duties, including posting on social media sites through the Internet. Because of this, she used a large amount of data, which she had to pay for out-of-pocket. Plaintiff requested to be reimbursed for these expenses but Defendant refused. Additionally, Plaintiff’s personal laptop did not have all of the programs she needed to successfully perform her job, so she requested a work laptop, but Defendant also denied this request.
In contrast, Plaintiff is informed that her male co-workers were reimbursed for their business expenses. In addition UploadVR provided male employees equipment, including iPhone 7s, new Apple laptops, and expensive cameras and accessories.
UploadVR did respond to TechCrunch’s report with a brief statement saying, “We cannot comment directly on any pending litigation. What we want to express is that our employees are our greatest asset and the sole reason for the success of this company. We are committed to creating a positive community in VR/AR as well as within our company culture and will work to further develop that mission in the future. We are confident that the true nature of how we treat our employees and how we operate as leaders will shine through this unfortunate situation and confirm that these allegations are entirely without merit.”
Speaking of local tech notables, sharp-eyed douche-watchers out there will notice that the image at the top of this article depicts none other than “tech evangelist” Robert Scoble, the man most famous for the image of wearing Google Glass in the shower that was frequently used on this and many other blogs to mock the 2013 iteration of the outrageously expensive tech wearable that no human consumer actually wanted. Scoble does indeed hold an entrepreneur-in-residence position at UploadVR, though he is not named in the suit.
But Scoble did take to Facebook to defend the company in a post from early Monday evening. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the sexual harassment issues in the tech industry and will come back with a post at a later date taking on those issues specifically,” Scoble writes in a not particularly moving piece of tech evangelism. He also adds that “The allegations in the lawsuit are shocking and don’t match the personal character of cofounders Will Mason or Taylor Freeman that I’ve witnessed.”
Maybe he didn’t witness this because he’s wearing those goofy-ass goggles all day long? Either way, he ought to need another shower after reading these allegations against UploadVR.