Indian American businesswoman Miki Agrawal accused of sexually harassing male employee

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Indian-American businesswoman Miki Agrawal, co-founder of Thinx, a company that makes “period underwear”, is currently in the eye of a storm after being accused of sexually harassing an employee. In a complaint filed with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights late last week, former employee Chelsea Leibow accused Agrawal of inappropriate behavior.

Leibow, the 26-year-old former head of public relations at the company, says in the complaint that Agrawal touched her breasts without her consent. She said Agarwal even asked her to expose her nipple piercings, and talked about it openly at an office event, pointing out Leibow. “I felt that Miki objectified my body when she declared that she was ‘obsessed’ with it and made very detailed comments about my breasts,” the report quotes Leibow. “It also seemed like a way for Miki to assert her dominance over female employees by simply doing whatever she wanted to do without asking, and showing she could get away with it.”

According to the complaint, Agrawal “routinely changed clothes in front of employees”, “conducted meetings via video conference while in bed, apparently unclothed,” and shared with her staff nude photos of herself and others.

Agarwal has also been accused of showing sexual interest in one of her employees, who was gay, often telling her how “hot” she was.

Leibow also complained that the company has a strong ageist and bully-dominated working environment.

According to a CNNTech report, Leibow was terminated last December after she complained to the company about Agrawal’s behavior.

While Agrawal declined to comment on the issue, she added a personal statement on a Medium post of hers, in lieu of the most recent allegations: “To be crystal clear, I know I’m passionate and oft unruly in my ways (as a taboo breaker must be), but I have never, ever crossed the line in the inflammatory ways described,” wrote Agarwal.

A Thinx spokesperson told the New York Magazine they are dealing with this issue “very seriously”.

“Thinx has not been served with a legal complaint or charge from any agency related to Ms Leibow’s allegations. When the issues were brought to our attention following aher departure from Thinx, the company commissioned an investigation that concluded the allegations had no legal merit. The company cannot comment further on these legal matters,” read the response.

The allegations came out in the open after Agrawal stepped down from her post as CEO at Thinx.

Thinx is replacing Agrawal with a “professional CEO” as well as an HR manager “who will be putting much more rigid HR practices in place,” Agrawal wrote in her post. “All I did was the best I could under these crazy circumstances,” Agrawal wrote on Medium, adding that she will potentially take on a new role, continuing to serve as the front face of the company. “The highs are high and lows are low, a veritable roller coaster. … My favorite saying is ‘iteration is perfection’ and this is simply part of the iterative process of growing a business. My head is high.”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. The allegations against Ms Agrawal may very well turn out to be true since many of her current and ex employees are stating her behavior was inappropriate, inexcusable and even possibly criminal (not to mention bizarre), or they may turn out to be false. Her sister/co-founder and all the fake accounts on here that are defending her by repeatedly just linking to some blog post by Agrawal herself aren’t doing any good though. If she indeed is innocent as to the more serious allegations against her, the fake accounts and her sister, et al would be well advised to just stay silent and quit while they are (not) ahead.

    Whats most alarming and doesn’t even require any debate is how absolutely inappropriate Agrawals response is to all of this. Her bizarre attempts at justifying her taking business calls whilst on the toilet, webchatting while naked in bed, undressing in front of anyone within arms length while at work, etc, etc….and then chalking it all up to her not having a proper HR team in place? really? You’re a CEO and almost 40 years old and you need an HR person to fill you in that your subordinates don’t want to webchat with you while you’re peeing? Really?

    She basically has “cest la vie, we’re a start-up, this is what happens at start-ups” as her reply to all of the less serious but still bizarre allegations regarding her unstable behavior and lack of looking out for the well being and comfort zone of her employees….wrong, Miki. That’s not how all start-ups are run. people at start-ups may make less money but pull longer hours than people at big corporations, but that’s where it ends….the whole making your employees uncomfortable, grabbing them, showing them your junk and asking to see and/or grabbing theirs? No, that’s not an integral part of start-ups. Not sure what book you read that lead you to think that.

    As far as the much more serious allegations that she ran this endeavor into the ground by intimidating, bullying and even sexually aggressing on her employees, well, we’ll have to see how this all fleshes out….but in the interim, she needs to stop playing the “oh well, sh** happens” card and start taking accountability for the very real things shes being called out on.

  2. It was two female employees (not male) she harassed ! One of the two harassed filed a sexual harassment complaint with the City of New York Commission on Civil Rights who are investigating.

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