SoFi CEO Is Added to Ex-Employee's Suit Over Sexual Harassment

  • CEO says company’s outside attorneys are investigating claims
  • Former manager complains of firm’s ‘culture of male bravado’

A former employee of Social Finance Inc. expanded a whistle-blower case he filed last month, alleging that the startup’s chief executive “fosters a sexually charged corporate culture that condones unlawful conduct” and deters victims from speaking out.

Michael Cagney

Photographer: Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Michael Cagney, the chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based company known as SoFi, said Friday the company has engaged its outside attorneys to investigate and that “severe action will be taken” if allegations about sexual harassment at the firm are found to be true.

Brandon Charles, who was a senior operations manager at SoFi, alleged in his Aug. 11 complaint he was fired in retaliation for speaking out on behalf of coworkers and defamed by the CEO.

“The culture of male bravado filters down from the leadership team at SoFi headquarters in San Francisco throughout the company, empowering other managers to engage in sexual conduct in the workplace,” Charles said in a revised complaint filed Thursday that adds Cagney as a defendant.

Charles claims that after he reported to human resources that a fellow SoFi manager had openly discussed a sex act with a younger, female subordinate at work, Charles was fired several weeks later. He also alleges that Cagney announced at a company meeting that the claims were unfounded and that action would be taken against Charles.

Improper Conduct

Cagney said in a company blog post Friday that it appears several people may be preparing to formally allege they were victims or witnesses to improper conduct in the Healdsburg, California, office.

“To be blunt, that kind of behavior has no place at SoFi, and we’re not going to tolerate it,” he wrote. He also said the company is creating new ways for people to anonymously report incidents or provide feedback.

While Cagney didn’t address Charles’s latest allegations against him specifically, company spokesman Jim Prosser said the ex-employee’s claims “were investigated in depth by the company and found to have no merit.”

“We will vigorously defend ourselves against any claims otherwise,” he said.

The case is Charles v. Social Finance Inc., CFC-17-560682, California Superior Court, San Francisco County (San Francisco).

— With assistance by Selina Wang, and Sarah Frier

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