Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Sexual Misconduct Often Ignored in Silicon Valley Startups

Sexual Misconduct Often Ignored in Silicon Valley Startups

In the wake of a former Uber employee’s revelations of sexual harassment that the ride-sharing giant purportedly ignored, a recent survey conducted by Elephant in the Valley indicated that 60% of female tech employees reported unwanted sexual advances at the workplace, with 1 in 3 feeling afraid of their personal safety because of work-related circumstances.

Despite decades of work towards gender equality, women still experience significant instances of drastically unequal pay, discrimination, and sexual harassment, particularly within the technology sector. As reported by The Guardian, “[I]n the male-dominated technology industry, female staffers and workers of color say sexual misconduct, discrimination and retaliation are rampant – and that men in powerful positions are routinely protected while women are often pushed out of their jobs by harassment.” These kinds of mistreatment have also been widely reported within Silicon Valley startups.

“The scale is sort of breathtaking,” stated Lieff Cabraser employment lawyer Kelly M. Dermody, who represents hundreds of women in tech and thousands across class action lawsuits. “Most of the women I’ve worked with in startups have had stories where they have been physically touched, if not worse, without their consent.”

Numerous public harassment claims against high-profile technology companies, including Twitter, Apple, Oracle, Google, Tesla and Uber, have been unveiled in recent times. What does this signify?

According to The Guardian, “Under the guise of ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation,’ startups and tech corporations skirt employment laws and reject HR practices while sometimes fostering a party culture where young male executives encourage socializing and drinking. Often, founders hire and promote friends and people similar to them. In these settings, women are vulnerable to all kinds of abuse, ranging from lewd comments to unwanted propositions to groping to assault.”

Upholding Employee Rights

Lieff Cabraser has a strong tradition of fighting for employee rights across America. Our employment law class action cases challenge discrimination based on employees’ race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; wage violations, including failure to pay overtime, break time, or vacation time; and misuse of employees’ retirement benefits. We also represent employees who “blow the whistle” on wrongdoing by their employers as well as in other cases alleging violations of the law.