The big mystery in the GitHub scandal is what happened between designer Julie Ann Horvath and a male co-worker who, she alleges, she did not want to sleep with.
A dispute over that allegation appears to have triggered a series of events that indirectly led to GitHub’s co-founder leaving the company.
The backstory is complicated: Horvath left the software code development company and later alleged in March she was “harassed by ‘leadership’ at GitHub for two years.”
Horvath said that co-founder Tom Preston-Werner’s wife subjected her to verbal harassment — “the wife was in my face at my work station verbally attacking me” — but it’s not entirely clear what the genesis of the dispute between Horvath and the Preston-Werners is.
Preston-Werner and his wife, Theresa, left the company today on the heels of Horvath’s allegations — even though the company’s internal investigation found that no harassment took place. (Preston-Werner did admit in a blog post that he had made “mistakes,” but he didn’t say what those mistakes were.)
More mysteriously, Horvath has alleged separately that a male co-worker wanted to sleep with her and she declined, at which point he began to undermine her at work. She repeated that allegation on Twitter today. It is not clear who the person is, and we do not have his side of the story.
Broadly, Horvath alleges that this man approached her at work, wanting to date her. She declined. In fact, she was dating someone else at GitHub at the time, she told TechCrunch:
While the above was going on, Horvath had what she referred to as an awkward, almost aggressive encounter with another GitHub employee, who asked himself over to “talk,” and then professed his love, and “hesitated” when he was asked to leave. Horvath was in a committed relationship at the time, something this other employee was well aware of, according to Horvath.
The rejection of the other employee led to something of an internal battle at GitHub. According to Horvath, the engineer, “hurt from my rejection, started passive-aggressively ripping out my code from projects we had worked on together without so much as a ping or a comment. I even had to have a few of his commits reverted. I would work on something, go to bed, and wake up to find my work gone without any explanation.” The employee in question, according to Horvath, is both “well-liked at GitHub” and “popular in the community.”
His “behaviour towards female employees,” according to Horvath, “especially those he sees as opportunities is disgusting.”
After that, someone writing as “Jane Doe” on Medium gave another side of the story:
Julie calls out an engineer in her story. The engineer she alleges harassed her was in fact an ex-boyfriend that she was still friends with at the time, not a random coworker she barely knew. They had dated prior to working at GitHub and were on good terms at the time.
The project he “ripped out” code from was a small css refactoring on an internal side project that he was helping her with. At the time of the incident, she was not upset about it and it was quickly fixed. At the time of her departure, she was not on great terms with him and her public story changed.
The Medium article also alleged that Horvath was spreading rumours about the Preston-Werners, and it was these rumours that led to the conflict between Horvath and the Preston-Werners.
This was Horvath’s take on Twitter today:
We reached out to Horvath but did not immediately hear back.