Ripcord CEO faces allegations of improper behavior


Perry Coneybeer, who left college at age 19 to work full-time at Ripcord, is alleging improper behavior by Ripcord CEO Alex Fielding. Coneybeer also alleges she was fired in retaliation for reporting a fellow employee to human resources.

In a Medium post published today, Coneybeer alleges Fielding told graphic, sexual stories involving other employees. One story was about an employee who allegedly sent Fielding porn, which Fielding then allegedly watched during the workday.

“He proudly told us he opened and watched the videos all the way through during the audits,” she wrote. “He then graphically described and pantomimed a sexual act called ‘gloving.’ He explained the act several times–it seemed that he interpreted the confusion on our faces to mean that we didn’t quite understand the mechanics.”

Fielding also allegedly had a bazooka next to his desk. But it wasn’t just Fenkell who behaved improperly, Coneybeer writes. It was throughout the company.

What ultimately brought Coneybeer to go to HR was when an employee at a company holiday party allegedly made a joke to her boyfriend about raping her. Coneybeer said she reported this to her boss, who then escalated it to HR.

Ripcord fired the person who made the rape joke. But within one month, both Coneybeer and her boss were also let go. Coneybeer told TechCrunch she considered filing a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and retaliation, but decided going this route may be more effective.

Coneybeer feels confident in telling her story because she did not sign the severance agreement upon being fired, she told TechCrunch. That agreement included a non-disclosure clause pertaining to speaking negatively of the company.

Ripcord, a company that uses robots to digitize paper records, has raised $85 million in total from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Legend Star, Lux Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Telstra Ventures, Steve Wozniak and con Ventures.

TechCrunch has reached out to Ripcord and is waiting to hear back. Ripcord, in a statement to Business Insider, said its board is investigating Coneybeer’s allegations and will take appropriate action, if needed. Ripcord also said it “cares deeply about fostering a positive workplace culture. Respect and integrity are absolutely integral to our ability to success.”

As for Coneybeer, she plan to return to school as a sophomore in September. She’s also currently looking for internships in tech, with the hope that the industry can change.

“It disheartens me to think that this is the way the tech industry is right now,” she wrote. “I’m optimistic, though, that a change can be made. The first step is for people to come forward with their stories.”

Spend a week fielding sensitive HR complaints in ‘Grayscale’ web game


If you’re looking for a way to close out your week that’s entertaining, edifying and looks like you’re doing real work, check out Chimeria:Grayscale, a game where you act as an HR person dealing with everyday office problems via email. Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound that exciting, but there’s more to it than that.

As the game’s creator, MIT CSAIL’s D. Fox Harrell, explains in an interview with… well, MIT, the game is more about identifying and navigating the subtleties of sexism.

The messages from other employees have embedded within them evidence of different types of sexism from the Fiske and Glick social-science model.

We chose this particular model of sexism because it addresses this notion of ambivalent sexism, which includes both hostile sexism — which is the very overt sexism that we know well and could include everything from heinous assaults to gender discrimination — and what they call “benevolent sexism.” It’s not benevolent in the sense that it’s anything good; it’s oppressive too. Fixing a woman’s computer for her under the assumption she cannot do it herself, these researchers would say, is “protective paternalism.”

The problems sent to you, the new HR hire, range all over, and your responses (it’s a kind of choose your own adventure thing) embody responses that may or may not acknowledge the dynamics at play.

This one was kind of a no-brainer, especially since your own notes make a point of watching out for Stan. Unfortunately, we’ve all met Stan.

There’s no big pay-off; the game takes perhaps 10 or 15 minutes to play through, and you don’t get like a certificate of non-sexism at the end or anything. But there are different outcomes depending on how you handle some situations, so you might want to play through more than once.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting (if brief and necessarily basic) look at some of the conflicts and tensions that exist in an office and the variety of responses people and the company they work for might decide on. If nothing else it may serve as a reminder that HR reps are people too.

Featured Image: Tetra Images/Getty Images