Can Silicon Valley foundation CEO survive scandal over ‘toxic’ workplace?

April 20, 2018 — By John Woolfolk for The Mercury News.

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… “Everyone knew what was going on and no one did anything,” she said.

Many former employees have declined to speak on the record, fearing their careers in philanthropy could suffer.

Rebecca Dupras, a former vice president for development who joined the foundation in 2014 and left after three years, said their accounts echoed her experience. She recalled an incident after a meeting with associates in which she said Loijens remarked in front of a male colleague that the men they had met with were ogling her, then asked her colleague why men “objectify Rebecca so much?”

“The whole thing was so demoralizing,” Dupras said. But she added that she felt helpless to complain because Carson and the human resources department made clear they were not interested.

Dupras said she considered a lawsuit over the objectify remark but was advised by a private lawyer it would be hard to build a case around one incident. But Los Angeles employment lawyer Genie Harrison said the remark was “unquestionably severe” enough to warrant a case.

Former employees described a process where complaints to human resources about Loijens or Carson ended with the employee forced to discuss their concerns directly with Carson. Harrison said that practice and HR officials tolerating abusive remarks would be “a huge problem for the foundation” and could lead to punitive damages if there were a lawsuit that went to trial.