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.”