UploadVR is being sued by the company’s former Director of Digital and Social Media for sexual harassment, sex and gender discrimination and wrongful termination, TechCrunch has learned.
The virtual reality startup, with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, consists of co-working spaces, training courses and a media publication, and has received funding from General Catalyst, Greycroft’s GC Tracker fund, Colopl and others.
Other defendants named in the suit include UploadVR co-founders Will Mason and Taylor Freeman. Freeman currently serves as CEO. Mason holds the role of president; previously he was editor-in-chief of the company’s publication.
Mason and Freeman were recently named in the media section of Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
The lawsuit alleges that UploadVR’s co-founders sought to create a “boy’s club” environment and that the virtual reality startup’s SF office was a hostile environment for female employees.
“The atmosphere and work environment at UploadVR was marked by rampant sexual behavior and focus, creating an unbearable environment for Plaintiff and other female employees.
“Defendants purposefully and expressly created a ‘boy’s club environment at work, focused on sex and degrading women, including female employees.”
UploadVR hosts a number of parties at the startup’s offices and at other venues during conferences. The startup has collaborated with a number of high-profile tech companies to host many of these parties.
The lawsuit alleges that Upload VR’s co-founders would discuss “how many girls they were going to have sex with” at the company’s parties. A room in the office with a bed was allegedly designated as the “kink room,” where employees would have sex.
“In the office, Defendants would frequently talk about how much sex they were going to have at each party, and how many girls they were going to have sex with. UploadVR even set up a room to encourage sexual intercourse at the workplace. The room was referred to as the “kink room” and contained a bed. Male employees used that room to have sexual intercourse, which was disruptive and inappropriate. Often, underwear and condom wrappers would be found in the room.”
The lawsuit describes another incident where the company rented a home for its employees to stay during a conference in LA and a party was thrown where one of the male employees invited prostitutes and strippers.
There are numerous other encounters described in the suit:
“Male employees, including Mason and Freeman, would even speak sexually about women that worked in the office, right in front of them. For example, 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.”
Aside from the accusations that the co-founders were operating a “sexually-focused” work environment, the lawsuit also alleges that women were discriminated against in the office, given menial tasks and were not reimbursed for necessary business expenses. The suit also claims that the company paid male employees more despite sharing the same roles and responsibilities.
In addition to raising many of the issues above, the plaintiff says she was wrongfully terminated. The plaintiff is suing for damages of an unspecified amount.
The plaintiff did not respond to a request for comment. We have reached out to her lawyers and will update if they respond. TechCrunch has reached out for comment from UploadVR.
Update: TechCrunch has been provided the following statement from defendants Mason and Freeman:
“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.”
You can read the full filing below.
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