San Francisco, CA- Co-founder and former chief executive of GitHub, Tom Preston-Werner, has resigned after a sexual harassment probe found “evidence of mistakes and errors in judgment.”
The investigation was initiated after CEO Julie Ann Hovrath accused Preston-Werner of sexual harassment said he and his wife created a hostile work environment. Hovrath said in an interview with TechCrunch that there was a culture at the software development company in which women were judged by their gender and not by the merits of their work.
Hovrath said Preston-Werner made sexual advances toward her and when she refused he took retaliatory actions towards her. She also alleges that she was subjected to a campaign of intimidation from the co-founder’s wife after she expressed her growing discontent with the rampant gender discrimination at the tech company. The co-founder’s wife told Hovrath she didn’t want her to quit and say “something bad” about her husband’s company.
As tensions began to rise, the co-founder’s wife made the working environment hostile for Hovrath, so much so that she decided to leave the company. In a tweet after the interview was released, Hovrath wrote: “My only regret is not leaving or being fired sooner. What I endured as an employee of GitHub was unacceptable and went unnoticed by most.”
Chris Wanstrath, GitHub’s chief executive and a co-founder, wrote in a blog post on Monday:
“The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife of sexual or gender-based harassment or retaliation, or of a sexist or hostile work environment. However, while there may have been no legal wrongdoing, the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment.”
GitHub did not specify what the “mistake and errors of judgment” were, but they were enough to force Preston-Werner out of the company he co-founded.
Wanstrath said the company is working in making the workplace more agreeable for both sexes by starting initiatives led by employees and the human resources department. The company will also work to ensure employees concerns are appropriately addressed, according to the New York Times.
Upon learning of Preston-Werner’s resignation, Hovrath wrote in a Tweet, “Bullying someone into quitting: Illegal,” “Pushing women with strong opinions out of your company because they disagree with you is wrong” adding that “Leaving GitHub was the best decision of my life.”
While at GitHub, Hovrath started an initiative, Passion Projects, to make the tech world more female friendly. GitHub initially funded the project but surrendered it to Hovrath when she resigned last month.
It’s not easy for women or men to come forward and report their bosses or co-workers for sexual harassment. As Hovrath personally experienced, complaining about mistreatment often leads to retaliation. It’s often easier for people to take a stand against harassment when they are represented by a sexual harassment attorney, who can guide them through the process of filing a formal complaint with their company and in civil court.