WeWork Accused of Mishandling Sexual Assault Reports Amid ‘Frat-Boy Culture’
WeWork, the company that provides shared work spaces popular with startups, is facing a lawsuit over the mishandling of sexual assault reports.
Ruby Anaya, 33, was fired in early August following her complaints that the company did not adequately follow up on two sexual assault reports she had made over the course of her employment, the New York Post reports. Anaya, formerly WeWork’s director of culture, had worked at the company since 2014.
According to the lawsuit, NBC reports, Anaya said she was grabbed from behind at a company “Summer Camp” event in August 2017. She reported the incident to HR, and was told the employee would take a sexual harassment prevention course. He had reported no recollection of the incident, having been “black-out drunk,” says the lawsuit.
In the second incident, Anaya said she was forcibly kissed at a company “Summit” in January 2018. She filed a complaint with HR, but was told after a month passed by that the man in question did not recall the incident, and the investigation had been closed.
“The sexual harassment and assaults of [Anaya] did not happen in a vacuum,” reads the suit, according to NBC. “They are product in part of the entitled, frat-boy culture that permeates WeWork from the top down.”
Anaya stated that the company’s mandatory Summits are “a huge, three-day, alcohol- and drug-laden party for all employees at the company.” She said WeWork also hosts Friday happy hours, where attendance is strongly encouraged.
WeWork has denied these allegations and said they properly handled Anaya’s complaints.
“These claims against WeWork are meritless and we will fight this lawsuit,” the company responded in a statement, according to the Post. “WeWork investigated this employee’s complaints, took appropriate action, and this employee was terminated solely because of her poor performance.”
The lawsuit, however, says Anaya “received almost exclusively positive feedback on her work efforts and performance.”
WeWork faced another lawsuit in 2016 following alleged wrongful termination of an employee after she notified coworkers of potential violations of California’s Labor Code, Buzzfeed News reports. At the time, WeWork said that employee was fired for failing to comply with company policy.