Zillow Is the Latest Tech Company Sued for Alleged Sexual Harassment

By William Peacock, Esq. on December 04, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There was the Tinder lawsuit. Executives at GitHub and Square left their companies in the wake of sexual harassment scandals.

And today's edition? Zillow, whose Irvine, California, office is described by a former employee as having an "adult frat house" culture. The employee, Rachel Kremer, filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing multiple supervisors of pervasive sexual harassment. She also claims that when she stopped playing along and rebuked her male coworkers' advances, she was fired, reports Valleywag.

Texts, Penis Picture Attached to Complaint

There was the time Kremer received a text that said: "Call me. Matt is showering. Thinking 333 dinner drinks and your smooth vagina."

Or the time her supervisors allegedly ranked employees according to breast size. Or called the office directory "Zinder" due to the frequency of inter-office sexual encounters.

And, of course, a picture message of a supervisor's penis, now permanently archived as part of the complaint.

Zillow, for its part, said that it was investigating the conduct and denied a company-wide culture problem. According to The Recorder, this is the third lawsuit filed against the company in recent months, all by Geragos & Geragos, the firm that represents Kremer. The other claims involve allegations of unpaid overtime, denied meal breaks, and more.

Startup Culture Problem?

Obviously, none of this conduct is acceptable workplace behavior, and yet, we keep seeing similar patterns pop up among startup companies, most of which are run by young, inexperienced leaders. The easy part of the solution is to have a plan and policy in place for dealing with this kind of conduct. A proper sexual harassment and workplace conduct policy should outline what is unacceptable behavior and should outline procedures for filing complaints.

The harder part is following through with the policy and embracing a workplace culture of maturity and respect, especially in a young male-dominated startup scene littered with "brogrammers."

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