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Ex-employee accuses TVF boss of sexual harassment

March 13, 2017 18:24 IST

Tiger Global-backed digital entertainment start-up The Viral Fever has come under fire for 'promoting sexual harassment at the workplace' after an ex-employee in an anonymous post on Medium alleged that she was molested by the founder and Chief Executive Officer Arunabh Kumar.

Apart from calling out Kumar's multiple sexual advances on her, the employee alleges that she was asked to 'walk out' when she elevated the issue to her bosses at TVF.

Further, complaints to co-workers received cold answers and she cites one instance where someone laughed off the matter.

In a post titled 'The Indian Uber - That is TVF' the writer seems to have taken inspiration from ex-Uber employee Susan Fowler's post alleging sexual harassment at the SF-based company.

Claims which are now being investigated by board member Arianna Huffington and an independent legal team.

'He looks at me and asks me: 'Chaturbhuj Sthan ka naam suni ho (Have you heard the name of Chaturbhuj Sthan)'? I am stunned. For non-starters, Chaturbhuj Sthan is the Red Light District of Muzaffarpur. I didn't respond. His second question: 'Humko Chaturbhuj Sthan Bahut Pasand HaiUdhar commercial deals hoti hainTum bhi to commercial deal pe aayi ho (I like Chaturbhuj Sthan very much. Commercial deals happen there. You also have come on a deal),' read the post on Medium.

The individual alleges the first time she was sexually harassed at the company when she was 21 days into her employment there, claiming that sexual advances by Kumar became a routine after that.

'Arunabh would try to lift me or would try and fall on me pretending he is drunk,' she claims in the post.

When verbally threatened with lodging a complaint with the police, Kumar's apparent retort was 'Police to meri pocket me hai (the police is in my pocket)', dissuading the 24-year-old from filing a complaint.

Further, he apparently directly contacted the father of the victim telling him that his daughter was 'making up stories'.

Kumar did not respond to calls when reached out for his comment. The company 'categorically' denied all allegations made against it and its team.

'We take a lot of pride in our team and in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men,' the company said in an email statement.

Further, it threatened to 'find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice' for making the so-called false allegations.

The anonymous ex-employee has written Arunabh Kumar knows her identity. TVF's shows such as Bachelors and Pitchers have made them a success in the online entertainment space.

The company has raised $ 10 million from Tiger Global.

The former employee starts off reciting her story of being recruited by Kumar at the age of 22, after being awe struck by the young entrepreneur from IIT Kharagpur who co-incidentally hailed from her hometown of Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

'Three years down the line I know what he was hiring. He was hiring his toys,' she wrote close to the end of her post, instigating the fact that this had happened to multiple people at the company.

The ex-employee, who wrote as 'Indian fowler', claims that one instance after which she decided not to return to work, prompted calls from the Legal department at TVF claiming that she was in breach of her contract.

She further alleges that she continues to get reminders from the company's legal department reminding her of her obligations, claiming to still be tracked.

Photograph: @TheQtiyapaGuy/Twitter

Alnoor Peermohamed
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