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Although Mark Zuckerberg wants to focus on developing his ‘metaverse’ , problems seem to be haunting him. This time it was not a massive drop in Facebook , Instagram or WhatsApp , or another controversy over user privacy . Now, the billionaire and his wife, Priscilla Chan , are facing a lawsuit from two former employees , who say they were victims of harassment and discrimination while working in the family office that handles the couple’s personal affairs.
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In the documents, filed in September 2021 and revealed by Insider , it appears that the plaintiffs are Mia King and a man who identified himself by the pseudonym of ‘John Doe’ , to remain anonymous. Both allege that a former Zuckerberg assistant named Liam Booth subjected them to unfair labor practices and degrading treatment .
Mia King worked for the family security company Limitless Specialty Services LLC from May 2018 to February 2019. She is described in the lawsuit as “an African-American woman and a member of the LGBTQ community.” She reported that Booth made several discriminatory comments to her related to her gender and race , as well as uncomfortable references to her breasts.
When King tried to address the problem, the company did not take action against the alleged harasser, and a co-worker even told him: “The men are in leadership positions here, they are in power.”
The legal documents also indicate that ‘John Doe’ is a homosexual man suffering from epilepsy, and served as operations manager for the family from January 2017 to March 2019. He claims that, in addition to receiving insults “based on his sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and / or medical condition “ , suffered sexual harassment by Booth. The man said that Zuckerberg’s former assistant repeatedly touched him inappropriately , one of them “during a company dinner hosted by the defendants in front of several witnesses and other employees,” the official papers cite.
Labor abuse in Mark Zuckerberg’s family office
In addition to complaints of discrimination and harassment, the plaintiffs also added charges for being forced to work overtime without pay , as well as being denied rest periods and meals .
‘John Doe’ says that he had to work more than 40 hours a week and more than 8 hours a day (the time stipulated in his contract), without any compensation. The man explained that he was forced to work “17-hour days to prepare the property before the arrival of the Zuckerbergs.” In addition, some of the tasks assigned to him, such as carrying heavy objects or covering long shifts without rest, could have made his health worse.
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Most of the allegations fall squarely on the mogul’s former assistant, Liam Booth , while the allegations against Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan focus on their role as employers.
The Facebook CEO’s response
A Zuckerberg spokesman , Ben LaBolt , said that an independent internal investigation showed that “the allegations could not be confirmed,” according to the same outlet.
“Any complaint made to our human resources staff is taken seriously, investigated and reviewed. […] We are confident that these statements, which seek to unfairly disparage our colleagues, will fail ” , added the spokesperson.
“We firmly believe that these employees were treated fairly and with respect and the family office is confident that they will void the claims,” concluded LaBolt.
This new scandal adds to the controversial statements of Frances Haugen , a former Facebook product engineer who leaked numerous internal company documents, accusing her of “choosing profit over safety.”