GitHub co-founder Chris Wanstrath announced in a blog post Sunday that an unidentified co-founder and an engineer has been put on leave as part of an investigation into allegations of gender-based “harassment” at the open-source coding platform.

On Friday, Julie Ann Horvath, a prominent engineer who spearheaded women’s initiatives at GitHub, took to Twitter to write about the harassment and intimidation she claimed she suffered from leadership at the company. Horvath was not immediately reachable for further comment.

In a subsequent interview with TechCrunch, Horvath explained why she had resigned, painting a dank picture of systematic gender discrimination, as well as intimidation from one co-founder and his wife. Another engineer, she alleged, had damaged work they’d done together after she rebuffed his romantic advances.

In his response, Wanstrath said the co-founder in question, as well as the engineer have been put on leave. In addition, the founder’s wife is no longer allowed in the office. Github’s website lists Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett as original co-founders. Neither the co-founder nor engineer in question were identified.

As explanation for how something like this could happen, Wanstrath pointed to the fact that GitHub is a young company that is expanding quickly, thanks in part to a $100 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz in mid-2012.

“GitHub has grown incredibly fast over the past two years, bringing a new set of challenges,” said Wanstrath. In January of this year, he wrote, it hired an HR lead, but “we still have work to do.”

He ended on a personal note, apologizing and saying that he is “super grateful” for Horvath’s contributions: “She’s done a lot to help us become a more diverse company.”

The full memo, titled “Update on Julie Horvath’s Departure” is here:

This weekend, GitHub employee Julie Horvath spoke publicly about negative experiences she had at GitHub that contributed to her resignation. I am deeply saddened by these developments and want to comment on what GitHub is doing to address them.

We know we have to take action and have begun a full investigation. While that’s ongoing, and effective immediately, the relevant founder has been put on leave, as has the referenced GitHub engineer. The founder’s wife discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in the office.

GitHub has grown incredibly fast over the past two years, bringing a new set of challenges. Nearly a year ago we began a search for an experienced HR Lead and that person came on board in January 2014. We still have work to do. We know that. However, making sure GitHub employees are getting the right feedback and have a safe way to voice their concerns is a primary focus of the company.

As painful as this experience has been, I am super thankful to Julie for her contributions to GitHub. Her hard work building Passion Projects has made a huge positive impact on both GitHub and the tech community at large, and she’s done a lot to help us become a more diverse company. I would like to personally apologize to Julie. It’s certain that there were things we could have done differently. We wish Julie well in her future endeavors.

Chris Wanstrath

CEO & Co-Founder




3 comments
thirteenburn
thirteenburn

This sounds to me more like some of her ideas weren't used and as a way for HER to get back at them, she "claims" harassment, thus ruining the character and reputations of people who didn't deserve it.


The dirty little secret with "harassment" is that a majority of the cases turn out to be retaliation for whatever perceived slight that may or may not have happened, which in turn makes ACTUAL harassment cases are taken less seriously.


Sad, but true...

oilburner
oilburner

The point was raised in the comments section of the TC article but adding my .02, it would be good to know whether or not the wife of the founder had access to GH customer chat files since she stated that she had access to private employee GH chat files. That would seem to raise some larger customer privacy issues (and require some company answers to that charge) in addition to the HR nightmare raised by Julie.

Wonkey the Monkey
Wonkey the Monkey

@thirteenburn  Citation needed, my friend. Your claim that a majority of these cases are unfounded is extreme, and demands extreme evidence. Particularly since you are casting aspersions upon a majority of the people who have ever filed harassment claims against an employer or co-worker.

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