GitHub Hit By Harassment Claims; Places Co-founder On Leave

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GitHub, a software-code sharing startup, has been accused of harassment and of fostering an uncomfortable workplace. In specific, Julie Ann Horvath, formerly employed as a developer at GitHub, has accused a co-founder of the company and a software engineer of harassment. The situation first came to public attention when Horvath aired her complaints via her Twitter account last Friday, and then over the weekend provided further details in an interview with TechCrunch.

GitHub, a web-based hosting service for software development projects using the Git revision control system, was founded in 2008 and raised $100 million in venture capital in 2012.

GitHub’s response

GitHub released a statement in response to the situation Sunday night. Chris Wanstrath, CEO and co-founder of GitHub, said the company was conducting a full investigation into Horvath’s claims, and had placed two people, a co-founder and an engineer, on leave. “I would like to personally apologize to Julie,” Wanstrath wrote in a blog post, “It’s certain that there were things we could have done differently.”

Details on the allegations

In her interview with TechCrunch, Horvath was quoted as saying male colleagues at GitHub judged her work based on her gender. In specific, she mentioned a scene she described as “inappropriate” where male employees were gawking at and egging on female employee who were “hula hooping”.

Horvath also described a situation with a male engineer who had expressed romantic interest in her. After she told him she wasn’t interested, he took out all of her lines of code from several ongoing projects as retaliation. She also recalled several awkward meetings with the spouse of one of the co-founders of GitHub, who Horvath alleges in one encounter verbally attacked and threatened her.

This weekend’s brouhaha over sexual harassment and the male-dominated workplace culture in Silicon Valley is just another installment in the long-running saga that stretches back to the 1980s. Few deny the reality of this paternalistic workplace ethos, and most agree that legal remedies are few except in the most egregious cases.

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