Over the weekend news broke of trouble at GitHub, a startup with $US100 million in funding, dedicated to helping programmers develop better code.
Julie Horvath, a former GitHub employee, tweeted a bunch of ominous statements about the startup Friday evening. The next day she opened up to TechCrunch about everything that happened.
Horvath alleges that GitHub was a horrible place to work as a woman.
She said that her work was not given the same respect as a man’s work simply because she is a woman.
But worse than that, she says had to deal with a GitHub co-founder and his wife. Horvath agreed to get drinks with the co-founder’s wife. Over drinks, the wife had some strange things to say, according to Horvath:
“I met her and almost immediately the conversation that I thought was supposed to be causal turned into something very inappropriate. She began telling me about how she informs her husband’s decision-making at GitHub, how I better not leave GitHub and write something bad about them, and how she had been told by her husband that she should intervene with my relationship to be sure I was ‘made very happy’ so that I wouldn’t quit and say something nasty about her husband’s company because ‘he had worked so hard.'”
Horvath told her partner, who also worked at GitHub about the situation. He asked the co-founder’s wife to give Horvath space.
Instead of getting space, Horvath got a meeting with HR. She had to go over everything that happened.
Nothing happened for a month.
Then, she was called to meet with the co-founder. In that meeting the co-founder called Horvath a “liar,” and accused her of threatening his wife, and then admonished her for dating a GitHub employee. Horvath was crying and shaking by the end of the meeting.
At the same time this was happening, another GitHub employee professed his love for Horvath to Horvath. She told him she wasn’t interested because she was already seeing someone. From that point forward, Horvath says things got really bad. “Hurt from my rejection, [he] started passive-aggressively ripping out my code from projects we had worked on together without so much as a ping or a comment … I would work on something, go to bed, and wake up to find my work gone without any explanation.”
The co-founder’s wife who had been giving her trouble started showing up at GitHub and staring at Horvath. The wife would sit down at a desk, glare at her and make her uncomfortable, says Horvath.
Horvath tried to get people to help, but it just got worse until one day:
The next thing I knew the wife was in my face at my work station verbally attacking me. She demanded to speak with me in private to which I said no. I asked her in a very calm way to leave me alone and told her she was making me uncomfortable. There is an eye-witness to this event.
Horvath wasn’t going to talk what happened at GitHub, but at some point people used Secret, an app for sharing content anonymously to make passive remarks about her. It sparked her to speak up.
Last night GitHub provided an in-depth statement to Horvath’s accusations. It says it will be suspending the co-founder in question.
Here’s the full GitHub blog post:
This weekend, GitHub employee Julie Horvath spoke publicly about negative experiences she had at GitHub that contributed to her resignation. I am deeply saddened by these developments and want to comment on what GitHub is doing to address them.
We know we have to take action and have begun a full investigation. While that’s ongoing, and effective immediately, the relevant founder has been put on leave, as has the referenced GitHub engineer. The founder’s wife discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in the office.
GitHub has grown incredibly fast over the past two years, bringing a new set of challenges. 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.
As painful as this experience has been, I am super thankful to Julie for her contributions to GitHub. Her hard work building Passion Projects has made a huge positive impact on both GitHub and the tech community at large, and she’s done a lot to help us become a more diverse company. I would like to personally apologise to Julie. It’s certain that there were things we could have done differently. We wish Julie well in her future endeavours.
CEO & Co-Founder