Zillow: Where Real Estate And Sexual Harassment Go Hand-In-Hand [Updated]
A lawsuit filed in California court alleges that real estate database Zillow subjects its female employees to an environment of near-constant harassment and “sexual torture,” in which women are sexually solicited by their coworkers, ranked based on their breast size and fired for complaining about it. Ugh.
According to the lawsuit:
Plaintiff Rachel Kremer began her employment enthusiastically with Defendant Zillow, Inc. (“Zillow”) on June 25, 2012 as an Inside Sales Consultant. Ms. Kremer quickly learned that Zillow had a pervasive culture of degrading women. Ms. Kremer’s male supervisors ranked her according to her breast size, sent pictures of their penis to her, and demanded sexual gratification and obedience by Ms. Kremer to continue her employment. Ms. Kremer’s experience was not limited to one supervisor, but instead, was pervasive throughout Zillow’s leadership. Privately, Zillow executives bragged that the office culture led to more sexual encounters than Match.com and referred to the internal office directory as “Zinder,” named after the dating application Tinder. Sadly, for Ms. Kremer, by not participating in this culture, she felt she would be outcast, and terminated. Eventually, after experiencing the most heinous acts of sexual harassment imaginable, Ms. Kremer was terminated. Zillow attempted to cover up their conduct by having Ms. Kremer sign a confidentiality agreement and release. Ms. Kremer brings this action based on the sexual torture she endured, and for the other women who have been silenced at Zillow, and remain exposed to horrific and unthinkable acts.
And Kremer has plenty of proof in the form of many emails and text messages sent to her by the offenders. For example, in addition to the charming correspondence above, here is a text message Kremer received from her direct supervisor, Gabe Schmidt:
And here’s another she received from a co-worker (spoiler: that’s his penis, not his thumb):
Way to leave a digital footprint, douchebros. Kremer says that she complained to her superiors about the ongoing harassment and nothing was done. Then, Kremer was fired, supposedly for failing to meet her sales goals, but she alleges that her performance was on par with another employee who was hired at the same time. She believes she was pink-slipped for refusing to play along with Zillow’s repulsive frat culture. Here’s hoping Kremer takes Zillow to the cleaners. In the meantime, I’m sticking with Trulia. [Valleywag]
UPDATE: Zillow sent us the following statement:
Zillow takes any allegations about our work environment very seriously. When this allegation was first made, we immediately investigated these claims and as a result took quick action and terminated a sales employee in our Irvine office. The allegations in the complaint do not reflect Zillow’s culture or workplace and are completely inconsistent with our values. We don’t tolerate harassment of any kind.
It’s incredibly important to us to create and maintain a work environment that is safe, comfortable and inclusive for everyone. Our people are our greatest asset as a company, and we take great pride in our strong culture and reputation as a best place to work.