A former employee at the artificial intelligence startup Pilot AI filed a lawsuit against its cofounders and one of its investors in the San Francisco County Superior Court on August 1, alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination in her time at the company.
Rachel Moore, a 24-year-old Stanford grad, claims she was discharged from her role at Pilot AI around April 30 after months of alleged sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the company, according to the suit.
Pilot AI is a Palo Alto-based artificial intelligence startup, founded in 2015 by Stanford PhD grads Elliot English and Jonathan Su. A 2016 series A funding round, led by New Enterprise Associates, valued the company at $23 million, according to PitchBook.
Pilot AI, English, Su, and NEA are all named in the complaint, as well as Pilot AI’s human resources provider TriNet.
The culture at Pilot AI, Moore alleges, required employees to participate in “sexual and risqué banter.” She was told men watch pornography in the office and use the server room to masturbate, according to the suit.
In particular, Moore alleges sexually charged comments from English, the chief technology officer, including one instance in which he allegedly told Moore about participating in “an anal sex workshop at Burning Man led by a famous porn star.”
In another instance, English allegedly asked Moore whether the boots she was wearing were “fuck me boots.” Moore also alleges that English called her into his office, closed the door and changed his pants in front of her, which she took to be a sexual advance.
In addition to specific instances of sexual harassment, Moore alleges Su, the CEO, tried to dissuade her from filing a complaint, and failed to document her complaint when she filed it, even as she faced what she believed to be retaliation for rejecting English’s alleged sexual advances.
Moore also alleges that the VC firm NEA and its partner Rick Yang led an “utter sham and a cover up” in lieu of a formal investigation into her complaints.
Representatives for NEA, Pilot AI and Yang did not respond to a request for comment. TriNet declined to comment.