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What Happens to a Startup With a #MeToo Scandal and No HR Department

Two women claim they were harassed at a health care startup, but for years, they say there was no one dedicated to fielding their complaints.

Priyanka Wali 

Priyanka Wali 

Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

The #MeToo movement has helped uncover the many ways men abuse positions of power, as well as the corporate fixers and financial settlements that enable such behavior. But what happens at a company just getting its start, with a few dozen employees, a board consisting of three men and no HR department?

For Priyanka Wali, the experience was disillusioning. Soon after going to work for a two-year-old health care startup in San Francisco, she said her boss touched her knee and later commented in a meeting that he “wouldn’t mind” if she were his girlfriend. Wali, a contract physician, didn’t report the alleged behavior when it occurred in 2016, she said, because the company, Virta Health Corp., didn’t have a human resources department at the time.