A former employee has filed a lawsuit against WeWork, the co-working company, claiming she was fired after reporting sexual assault incidents.
Ruby Anaya, formerly the company’s director of culture, said the sexual misconduct began in August 2017 when she was grabbed from behind during a company “Summer Camp” event. She informed HR about the incident and was told that the employee would take a sexual harassment course.
Anaya said that she was sexually harassed again in January 2018 when she was forcibly kissed at a company “Summit.” She reported the incident to HR, but was told a month later that the man didn’t remember anything and the investigation was closed.
“The sexual harassment and assaults of [Anaya] did not happen in a vacuum,” the lawsuit said. “They are product in part of the entitled, frat-boy culture that permeates WeWork from the top down.”
In August 2018, Anaya was fired for poor performance even though she never received a negative performance review.
Anaya’s former boss, Miguel McKelvey, however, said that she skipped meetings and often neglected her assignments.
“There may be discussion in the media about what happened, but the truth is that Ruby wasn’t fulfilling her role as a WeWork employee. As her manager, I was responsible for listening to feedback and taking action. Any suggestion that her dismissal was anything other than performance based is simply not true,” he said.
Anaya’s attorney, Seth Rafkin, said in an emailed statement, “If our client had been a poor performer for a long time, why didn’t WeWork ever give her a warning or a performance plan, something human resources professionals will tell you is typical practice? And why did the decision to fire her come only after she complained again about a sexual assault and the way it was handled?”
WeWork denies the allegations and plans to fight the lawsuit.
Anaya is asking for economic and punitive damages from the lawsuit, including lost wages from being fired.