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Lawsuit describes VR startup’s office ‘kink room,’ parties ‘rife with sexual impropriety’
By Marisa Kendall /
Prostitutes at a work party. An office “kink room.” Internal emails discussing an executive’s STD test results.
Those were the conditions at San Francisco-based virtual reality startup UploadVR, according to a lawsuit filed against the company by a former employee.
Elizabeth Scott, who worked for UploadVR as director of digital and social media until March, says her former employers created a sexually charged boy’s club culture, excluded her and other women from meetings and important emails and forced them to perform menial tasks like cleaning the office refrigerator. She’s suing for claims including discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.
“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,” according to the complaint, filed earlier this month in San Francisco County Superior Court. “Defendants purposefully and expressly created a ‘boy’s club’ environment at work, focused on sex and degrading women, including female employees.”
TechCrunch reported the lawsuit Monday.
SiliconBeat reached out to UploadVR for comment and will update this post if the company responds. The company, which has offices in San Francisco and Marina del Rey, offers virtual reality-focused training, coworking space, events and news.
Employees, including co-founder and president Will Mason, discussed sex at the office in front of their female co-workers on a daily basis — including talking about their sexual exploits in graphic detail, according to the lawsuit. The complaint describes male employees commenting on women’s bodies, and talking about masturbation and arousal while at the office. Efforts to secure “submissive Asian women” for a business trip and an UploadVR executive’s STD status were topics of office emails, according to Scott.
Freeman told Scott that she couldn’t be used for marketing purposes because she was “too big,” according to the complaint.
Sexual conduct at work events was common and even encouraged, Scott claims. UploadVR employees even set up a “kink room” in the office, according to the complaint.
“Male employees used that room to have sexual intercourse, which was disruptive and inappropriate,” Scott’s lawyers wrote. “Often, underwear and condom wrappers would be found in the room.”
During a conference in Los Angeles, which Scott was required to attend, she says UploadVR employees invited prostitutes and strippers to a party at a house the company rented in the area. At another conference in San Jose, UploadVR employees hosted a party that was “rife with sexual impropriety,” according to the complaint.
Scott also claims she and her female co-workers were treated differently from the men in the office. She says she was isolated at work, excluded from work lunches and meetings and left off important emails.
“This isolation and exclusion meant that plaintiff did not know what was going on in the office and missed out on opportunities,” the complaint states.
Instead, Scott says she and the other women were required to clean the kitchen, organize the refrigerator and clean up after parties.
Scott says she was fired after complaining about the harassment she endured at work. Her last day was March 15.
Photo: Screenshot of the UploadVR website. (UploadVR)