Formal sexual harassment allegations coming soon for Bay Area online-lending firm: CEO

San Francisco online-lending firm SoFi said in August that there was no merit to allegations in a lawsuit by a former employee who claims he was fired for reporting sexual harassment of colleagues, but now the company’s CEO is warning employees that formal complaints are on the way.

Brandon Charles, who had worked in SoFi’s loan-processing office in Healdsburg said in his lawsuit that after reporting to the company that his manager had made explicit sexual comments and lewd gestures, he was told that making such a complaint fell outside his duties so he was fired, the New York Times reported Aug. 11.

The company, reportedly valued at more than $4 billion, rose to prominence as a financial-technology success via its refinancing of student loans. It now offers additional lending services.

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SoFi spokesman Jim Prosser told the Times in August that Charles’ claims, some of which were quite lurid — were “investigated in depth by the company and found to have no merit.”

On Sept. 1, however, the firm’s CEO Mike Cagney sent a note to workers — which the company also made public on its blog — saying its legal team had discovered through conversations with employees that a lawyer “has been trying to collect information relating to alleged sexual harassment at the company.”

And, he said, that lawyer now “has several people who are prepared to formally allege they were the victims of or witnesses to improper activity at our Healdsburg operations office.”

In a switch from the line that there was no merit to the harassment claims, Cagney said such behavior had no place in the company and would not be tolerated.

“These allegations are being thoroughly investigated by outside attorneys we have engaged,” Cagney said.

“To the extent we determine that there is any truth to the allegations, swift and severe action will be taken.”


Photo: From a SoFi company event in San Francisco (courtesy of SoFi)


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