Square COO Stepping Down After Sexual Harassment Accusations
Square announced that COO Keith Rabois was leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that his resignation came after a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed employee at Square.
The Journal reports hearing from Square that a lawyer representing the employee in question accused Rabois of sexual harassment and said that the company had failed to take necessary action. Rabois denied the charges to the Journal: “I’m completely confident that all the facts will come out and I will be vindicated.”
In a lengthy post on his Tumblr, Rabois explained that he had a physical relationship with a man who he then recommended to interview for a job at Square. Rabois says he did not work directly with the employee, but that he did continue to have a physical relationship with him after he was hired at Square.
I realize that continuing any physical relationship after he began working at Square was poor judgment on my part. But let me be unequivocal with the facts: (1) The relationship was welcome. (2) Square did not know of the relationship before a lawsuit was threatened; it came as a complete surprise to the company. (3) He never received nor was denied any reward or benefits based on our relationship. And (4), I did not do the horrendous things I am told I may be accused of. While I have certainly made mistakes, this threat feels like a shakedown, and I will defend myself to the full extent of the law.
Ultimately, Rabois says he decided to resign from the company to avoid serving as a distraction for his coworkers. “I decided to resign from Square so my colleagues could continue to do great work without the distraction that a lawsuit would most certainly bring,” he said.
Rabois served as the second-in-command at Square, helping to steer the startup’s business development and ramping up the staff. Before joining the company in 2010, Rabois held executive positions at big-name tech companies, including LinkedIn and PayPal and, according to his LinkedIn profile, he currently serves on the board of directors at Yelp.
Square has been riding high in recent months, closing a $200 million round of funding in September that valued the company at $3.25 billion, and partnering with Starbucks to make Square available in some 7,000 stores across the U.S. It remains to be seen how much of a shadow this casts over the startup in the coming days.
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