Lawsuit alleges billion-dollar startup Magic Leap is a hostile working environment for women

Rony AbovitzGettyMagic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz

A newly filed lawsuit by a former Magic Leap VP alleges that the company is a hostile working place for women, a condition that has led to the company missing internal deadlines, according to the complaint.

Tannen Campbell, whose lawsuit in Southern Florida District Court says she was a VP of marketing and brand identity, says in the complaint that she was hired by Rony Abovitz, the CEO by the Dania Beach, Florida-based company to “help with the pink/blue” problem, referring to the lack of women in leadership positions at the company. 

She also claims that Magic Leap had a culture that assumed its employees were men, including what she says was an internal email describing a policy for “bored wives at home while you are loving it at the Leap.”

According to Campbell’s complaint, many of the executives at Magic Leap blocked her efforts to reform company policy before she was fired in late December. 

Magic Leap did not immediately return requests for comment.

Missed deadlines 

Campbell, who is suing for Magic Leap for sex discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment, connects the lack of women in Magic Leap’s leadership and engineering department with claims of missed internal deadlines.

From the complaint: 

“The macho bullying atmosphere at Magic Leap fosters a dysfunctional culture which creates chaos and lack of process and structure, hinders the company from achieving key product deadlines (including launch, which has shifted back at least 4 times in Campbell’s 1.5 years at the company) and, literally, prevented Campbell from doing the job she was hired to do or achieving the goals she and Abovitz had discussed during her initial interview: helping with the “pink/blue problem” or making Magic Leap less of a “boys club.””

“Sadly, because Magic Leap seldom hires and does not actively recruit female candidates, the company loses competitive advantage to products like Microsoft’s Hololens. Microsoft, which employs far more females on its team, developed its similar product on a faster time line with more content that appeals to both genders.”

One of the things Campbell connects to her eventual firing was that she challenged Magic Leap CEO Abovitz, comparing herself to the child in the “Emperor’s New Clothes” who pointed out that the emperor was naked and not in fact wearing extremely cool invisible clothes. 

From the complaint: 

Campbell also raised concerns that what Magic Leap showed the public in marketing material was not what the product actually could do — admonitions ignored in favour of her male colleagues’ assertions that the images and videos presented on Magic Leap’s website and on YouTube were “aspirational,” and not Magic Leap’s version of “alternate facts.”

Here’s the full complaint: 

Tannen Complaint by Kif Leswing on Scribd

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