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Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Accuses Zillow Of Acting Like An 'Adult Frat House'
Another tech startup, another sexual harassment lawsuit. This time it's real estate database startup Zillow, and they're being sued by a former employee who says she was ranked by breast size and subject to numerous creepy advances.Rachel Kremer was hired as an Inside Sales Consultant at Zillow in 2012, Gawker reports. While Zillow is based in Seattle, Washington, Kremer lived and worked in Orange County, where Zillow is licensed to do business. Her lawsuit, which was filed in a California court, alleges that she was tormented by numerous unwanted advances from her supervisors and then unjustly fired under the pretense of failing to meet her sales goals for two months. The suit says she was given no warning about her sales numbers and that other employees were not fired, though they had similar sales. She believes she was fired because she refused her supervisor's advances. The lawsuit also describes the overall office culture at Zillow as an "adult frat house," and that Kremer was afraid that she would be fired if she didn't play along. The lawsuit describes her experience as "sexual torture."
From the lawsuit:
Eventually, after experiencing the most heinous acts of sexual harassment imaginable, Ms. Kremer was terminated. Zillow attempted to cover up their conduct by having Ms. Kremer sign a confidentiality agreement and release. Ms. Kremer brings this action based on the sexual torture she endured, and for other women who have been silenced at Zillow, and remain exposed to horrific and unthinkable acts.
The suit also outlines a few of the things Kremer alleges happened while she was employed at Zillow.
She says she once requested an IT employee help her reset her password. Her supervisor, Gabe Schmidt, reportedly told her that the IT employee would help her in exchange for a picture of her breasts. One night, she says she received a text from Schmidt, inviting her out to a popular Newport Beach bar called 333 in this fashion: "Call me. Matt is showering. Thinking 333 dinner drinks and your smooth vagina." Another time, he allegedly texted her asking if she wanted to have sex with him. The suit contains these text messages, as well as another where Schmidt sends her a photo of his erect penis (warning: NSFW image in the embedded court documents below), according to the complaint. Kremer also claims that when the company hired another female employee whose name was also Rachel; her supervisors joked that the new hire was "Rachel 2.0" because she had larger breasts and "less miles on her."
A Zillow spokeswoman told The Recorder that the company has fired one person and is investigating these claims.
This follows two other suits by way of the same law firm, Geragos & Geragos. The first accuses Zillow of denying meal breaks and not paying overtime; the second is from an employee who says he was retaliated against for exposing credit card fraud and other corruption, the OC Register reports.
Kremer's complete suit is embedded below. Warning: some of the texts and images are graphic.
Update, 5:00 p.m.: Zillow has provided us with a statement.
Zillow takes any allegations about our work environment very seriously. When this allegation was first made, we immediately investigated these claims and as a result took quick action and terminated a sales employee in our Irvine office. The allegations in the complaint do not reflect Zillow’s culture or workplace and are completely inconsistent with our values. We don’t tolerate harassment of any kind. It’s incredibly important to us to create and maintain a work environment that is safe, comfortable and inclusive for everyone. Our people are our greatest asset as a company, and we take great pride in our strong culture and reputation as a best place to work.