A month ago, Social Finance, or SoFi, a startup based on the refinancing of student loan advances, was sued by a former employee. The senior operations manager who filed the claim, Brandon Charles, says he was wrongfully fired for revealing lewd behavior toward female associates by their chiefs and for reporting managers who he claims dishonorably recorded advances with the end goal to goose their bonus pay.
Days later five former SoFi representatives recorded a different claim, asserting they weren’t given breaks or paid as per California law.
Now SoFi CEO Mike Cagney is sharing more information about these claims, which were filed by the same attorney, Robert Ottinger. In another post, Cagney emphasizes that he considers the protestations important.
“While we’re confident in our positions in these cases, we take these types of claims seriously,” Cagney wrote. “Our legal team is hard at work preparing our responses, and as part of that work, we’ve had many discussions with current and former employees about these issues. Based on these discussions, we’ve discovered that the same lawyer has been trying to collect information relating to alleged sexual harassment at the company, and that he has several people who are prepared to formally allege they were the victims of or witnesses to improper activity at our Healdsburg operations office. To be blunt, that kind of behavior has no place at SoFi, and we’re not going to tolerate it.”
A SoFi spokesperson responded to the amended complaint, calling Ottinger’s credibility into question. “These cases are brought by a lawyer who tells prospective clients on his YouTube channel that the facts and the law aren’t the most important factors in employment lawsuits.”
The statement continues to say Ottinger “prefers to defame companies and individuals with lurid rumor and innuendo in the hope he will be paid to go away. That’s unethical and wrong. As we said when the case was filed, Mr. Charles’ claims were investigated in depth by the company and found to have no merit. We will vigorously defend ourselves against any claims otherwise.”
From reports of a sexist culture at Uber to lewd behavior charges that cut down prominent investors like Dave McClure, Silicon Valley organizations have been under intense investigation lately, as the industry assesses its treatment of women. SoFi has raised nearly $2 billion paying off debtors and value financing. The organization has turned into a pioneer in loaning and other “fintech” classes.