Managing Director of Bright Data Won’t Take No for an Answer – According to EEOC Charge Filed by Former Employee of Bright Data, Inc.

Bright Data, Inc. is a Delaware corporation and subsidiary of an Israel-based company, Bright Data Ltd. The Company’s United States headquarters are in New York City.

As alleged in her Charge of Discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, our client’s second-level supervisor, a Managing Director, engaged in inappropriate behavior even before Bright Data hired her, which escalated after her hire into blatant sexual harassment. Her supervisor attempted to engage in a sexual relationship with our client, “Jane Doe”, which she rejected, and for which rejection she paid the price of her employment, according to her EEOC Charge.

Doe interviewed for a position at Bright Data in May 2021. Rather than discuss work experience or Doe’s professional skills, and rather than describe the Company/the available position, the Managing Director asked intrusive questions about her personal life, phrasing questions in a way to elicit whether she was single or not. Doe felt compelled to reveal that she was not married, with a daughter – in other words, a single mom. The supervisor-to-be immediately began to tell her that single mothers are “the most diligent and efficient” “because they have no choice,” among other statements, in essence commenting that single mothers are at the mercy of their employers. Her boss would return to these comments during her employment, reiterating them on at least three other occasions.

Doe was offered the job and began work in June 2021.

Doe’s new boss traveled regularly to New York City to meet with employees, including Doe. These meetings would segue into dinners, with drinks, which employees were expected to participate in.

In the first of these meetings with the entire America-based team, taking place in early July 2021, Doe met with the group at the end of the day for dinner. Although the Managing Director could not attend, at 8:40 p.m. however, he messaged Doe via Skype, asking “You keep up with the kids?” referring to her co-workers, which she interpreted as asking whether she could keep up sexually with the younger workers. Doe did not respond that evening, writing the following morning, and not knowing what else to say, “I try…trying to.” Her boss responded, “They need help from someone with more experience”, referring to her.

A few months later, Doe arrived in New York for a training. At 10:15 p.m. one evening, her boss again messaged her directly asking whether she landed and was all well. To be courteous, she replied that she had landed and had had dinner with two members of her team. The Managing Director replied, “Dreamy, and see you tomorrow.” An hour later, well after business hours, at 11:05 p.m. he wrote to her again, for no work-related purpose, and seemingly to establish an unwanted intimacy, to tell her “GN,” meaning “good night”. This type of behavior became typical, with her boss sending Doe messages that were inappropriate and crossed professional boundaries.

For instance, the following day, her boss invited the team to dinner. A client tagged along at dinner. As alleged in Doe’s EEOC Charge, during the happy hour and dinner that followed, the client co-opted Doe’s time, much to the irritation of her boss, who jealously watched the client monopolize Doe. Later in the evening – well after ‘business’ hours, her boss messaged Doe again, privately [in Hebrew] through Skype, stating “He really likes to talk, your boyfriend,” referring to the client. Doe understood his message to reflect his displeasure and undeserved jealousy. At almost 9 p.m., he messaged her again, pressuring her, “So, I drink alone?” Despite having no interest in having a drink with her boss, she felt compelled to agree given his status at the company and authority over her. He did not invite or pressure others at the company to come meet him for a drink after a 14-hour workday.

As her Charge sets forth, at a bar near Doe’s hotel, her boss pressured her into drinking. Although Doe asked the waiter to make her mojito “light” on alcohol, the Managing Director made her feel uncomfortable when she resisted having a second drink, giving her a hard time for drinking too slowly, and even ordering a second drink for her -which she did not want – when she had not finished her first. Not content, he even went so far as to pour the second drink into her first glass. This was the third occasion that day on which Doe was expected to drink alcohol “for work.” Her boss seemed intent on getting her drunk and kept bringing up personal issues with her. He pressed her to discuss her love life as a divorced woman, her age, and her previous marriage, and sought to know why she was divorced, among other personal questions. She had no interest in revealing this information to her boss, late at night, over drinks. But he was right about one thing he had said during her interview, single mothers lack choices: she did what she could to keep the peace and keep her job, without giving in fully to his overtures.

However, not content to engage in personal conversation over drinks,  as they stood up to end the evening, her supervisor hugged Doe without her consent, and point-blank asked her “Shall we go to a room in the hotel?”, her Charge alleges. Doe was embarrassed and uncomfortable and was unsure what to say, as so many women are when put in this position. Although she tried to put him off without offending him, he could not be dissuaded, telling her she should “have fun”, and the age difference was not a problem. Her boss insisted on walking her back to her hotel, where he refused to take “no” for an answer: he again hugged her, pulled her close to him and against her will and pressured her to have a sexual encounter with him.

Shocked at his behavior and his persistence, Doe let him know she was tired and the answer was “no.” Subtle retaliation followed immediately the next day as she was leaving for an overseas flight; he made a face, and told her that her outfit “doesn’t look good,” finding the need to put her down and make her feel unattractive after she rejected his multiple sexual advances.

On future trips, her harassing supervisor’s conduct stayed consistent. As she alleges in her EEOC Charge, her boss would isolate her from her team, walking close to her and speaking to her in Hebrew – a language none of the other team members spoke — or sitting too close to her, sometimes with his hand on her leg or draped over the back of a couch behind her, when they were out for team meetings. On one occasion, feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable, and concerned her colleagues would have the wrong impression, she told him “Let’s speak English, it does not look good.” Shockingly, Managing Director’s response [in Hebrew] was “On my dick,” which Doe understood to mean, “I don’t care,” but in very graphic language. Doe felt sickened by his behavior.

Another evening, after he had cornered her and spoken to her in Hebrew to the exclusion of the team, Doe told him he “must be tired after the flight” from Israel, in an effort to end the night. Her boss salaciously replied that he “still has energy to bring it on.”

On yet another trip, her boss sent private message via WhatsApp, asking her what room she was in and replied that “it’s close” to his. He followed up saying they should get a drink. Even after, a colleague showed up at the bar (to Doe’s relief), her boss ignored the colleague, sitting close to Doe and monopolizing her. Later, he again asked where her room was, pressuring Doe to show him hers – which she avoided. When she was -she thought – back safely in her room alone, she worried he would come knock on her door, since he knew her room number. And despite all her subtle and direct efforts to avoid being alone with him, he continued imploring her, messaging her at 9:30 p.m., “Come here [to my room]. … Are you really going to bed?” When Doe replied that she was speaking with her daughter, he dismissed it: “So?” She told him her flight was early. At 10:15 p.m. he wrote, “What a bummer.”

Her boss’ mantra appeared to be, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again: the following evening, he again messaged her privately, well after the workday had ended: “Have you abandoned me?” She told him she was already home in bed, but he persisted with multiple messages: “Well, then come;” “I have beer and snacks here;” “How did you abandon me;” “Take a taxi with a bottle of wine;” “That’s why you have to bring wine with you.” Her boss was relentless – he was exhausting her with his harassment and her distress was substantial. She knew she had to manage to say no repeatedly without causing him to fire her.

Back in New York a few months later, his behavior continued in the same pattern. After a team dinner at which he again sat too close and spoke to her in Hebrew, as he had on every other trip, he crossed all professional boundaries, texting her at 9 p.m.: “I still have energy.” Doe  replied, “But after eating pizza it seems better to go to sleep.” Her boss responded, “Whatever you want,” adding moments later, “It is fun on the 16th floor”, an entreaty for her to join him in his room. She did not and was punished for it.

Doe’s EEOC Charge describes how it had finally become clear to her boss that none of his inappropriate and unwelcome attempts to seduce her would succeed, despite his efforts. The consequence was swift. The following morning at breakfast, in front of Doe’s direct supervisor, he immediately began chastising her and putting her down, announcing “She sits here in Seattle, on the fleshpot and instead of bringing customers, going to conferences, attending events, and bringing sales, she complains. If I were you, in the area you are in, I would bring much more sales.” His angry tirade lasted several minutes, shocking both Doe and her direct supervisor. No one had previously raised any questions or concerns about her performance, which was very strong despite that no one had ever even given her a job description. Doe point-blank asked why no one had said anything to her previously if this were true. There was silence.

The next several months revealed that her standing in the company had shifted, but with no performance-based reason. In the Spring 2023, Doe’s boss made it clear that Doe was to be fired, saying in passing throughout the office to several colleagues that they “need to fire” Doe  [and another worker]. Three months later, in retaliation for her rejecting him, Bright Data discharged her from employment, despite that there were no performance issues.

In no modern workplace is it acceptable for a boss to continuously pressure his subordinate either explicitly or implicitly to engage in a sexual relationship as a condition of employment. Doe intends to stand up to Bright Data so that her daughter does not have to grow up in a world where fending off the boss is part of the job.

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