Julie Horvath Accuses Tech Startup GitHub of Sexism, Intimidation

Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 01:45 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Julie Horvath, a former engineer at GitHub, sparked an internal investigation last week when she left her job and accused the software development company of sexism and intimidation.

Horvath went public with her allegations in a Saturday interview with TechCrunch
, in which she claimed that a GitHub co-founder and his wife intimidated her on two separate occasions.

When she started at GitHub two years ago, Horvath claims her boss' wife asked her out for drinks. During the meeting, the woman reportedly told Horvath that she was in charge of hires and wanted to make sure Horvath wouldn't quit and badmouth the company or its co-founder. Horvath then told TechCrunch that the woman, who was not a GitHub employee, confessed to having "spies" within the company and revealed that she reportedly had the ability to read all employees' communications.

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She confided in a colleague about the meeting and it eventually got back to HR, at which point Horvath says she began to feel like she was "being bullied into leaving."

The co-founder ultimately accused Horvath of threatening his wife and "chastised her." From that point on, the wife would reportedly show up at the office and "glare" at Horvath, "as if trying to provoke a reaction," she told TechCrunch. The situation culminated with the wife "verbally attacking" Horvath at the office.

During that time, Horvath said she was also fending off romantic advances from a different GitHub employee who she says started "ripping out coding" from a project they worked on when she rejected him.

This week, GitHub's CEO and other co-founder Chris Wanstrath placed the accused offenders on leave and apologized to Horvath.

"I would like to personally apologize to Julie. It's certain that there were things we could have done differently," Wanstrath wrote in a blog post published Sunday, adding that his partner's wife is no longer be permitted in the office.

"GitHub has grown incredibly fast over the past two years, bringing a new set of challenges," the post continued. "Nearly a year ago we began a search for an experienced HR Lead and that person came on board in January 2014. We still have work to do. We know that. However, making sure GitHub employees are getting the right feedback and have a safe way to voice their concerns is a primary focus of the company."

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