BetterWorks chief sued for sexual assault

Another victim of sexual harassment by a Silicon Valley chief has come forward.

betterworks ceo kris duggan
BetterWorks CEO and founder Kris Duggan. BetterWorks

Another Silicon Valley chief executive is in the cross hairs for getting involved in an alleged sexual misconduct. BetterWorks chief executive Kris Duggan is now facing a lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged that the boss sexually harassed her during a company retreat Pescadero, California.

Sexual misconduct

Beatrice Kim, a former employee at BetterWorks, is pressing charges against the Duggan for allegedly assaulting her in a sexual manner. The lawsuit involves BetterWork's regional vice president Matt Hart and vice president of People Operations Tamara Cooksey for failing to address the issue at hand.

Kim's lawyer Conor D. Mack told TechCrunch that his client is demanding a jury trial over sexual harassment and discrimination, assault and battery against Duggan and his fellows at the performance management software startup.

In the complaint obtained by the publication, it said: "As described in the verified complaint, we intend to prove that BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan assaulted Plaintiff Bea Kim in a sexually suggestive manner, ignoring her protests and attempts to free herself from Duggan until a coworker had to physically intervene. We also intend to prove that BetterWorks fosters a hostile and discriminatory work environment for women by tacitly endorsing and actively covering up abusive misconduct by members of senior management."

Kim's testimony

The alleged sexual assault took place in October 2016 during a two-day company retreat in Pescadero, California. Duggan was intoxicated one night when he was dancing with female staff. He began entering a cabin and chest-bumped a female employee over and over again until she fell down, prompting Kim to leave the cabin for another.

Duggan happened to have entered cabin #143 wherein Kim laid on one the beds. This is where the complainant began to pump and pound Kim's buttocks up and down. Kim begged Duggan to stop because she felt uncomfortable but he refused to until a fellow employee intervened and pulled her away from Duggan.

The following morning Kim reported the incident to Cooksey. A couple of days later, Duggan apologized for his misconduct via company-wide email, saying he would hire an external employment expert to investigate the matter. Weeks after the investigation was finished, Kim was not allowed to see the results and later came to known that the investigator rolled out that Duggan is not guilty of any sexual misconduct.

Kim claimed that Cooksey called the harassment complaints as "cattiness", even suggesting to her to be a "cool girl". This forced Kim to tender her resignation at BetterWorks.

Neither Duggan nor a company representative comment on the lawsuit as of the press time.

This article was first published on July 15, 2017