Ex-San Jose cop stood up for sexually harassed women at tech firm and was fired for it: lawsuit

Crime, SEcurity

When a high-ranking executive at $17 billion San Jose tech company Xilinx started talking about his genitals during a company party, female colleagues were uncomfortable but feared if they complained to HR they would suffer retaliation, according to a new lawsuit against the firm. So Robert Lobach, a security contractor at the semiconductor company and former San Jose policeman, urged the women to reconsider going to HR, but they declined and he offered to make the complaint on their behalf, the lawsuit said. The women agreed, according to the suit, which alleges Lobach was fired in retaliation for making the complaint. Lobach, before going to Xilinx HR, met individually with the women to confirm the details of what they experienced at the December 2017 party also attended by the Xilinx executive, Chris Ward, head of global security operations, the suit said. At the party, Ward had been telling a story about a man who threatened to cut off a portion of his genitals, and Ward went on to praise his reproductive organ and emphasized his desire to protect it from the would-be assailant, the lawsuit said. Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter. The women around Ward were, like Lobach, contractors from security company Allied Universal Security Services, which provided services to Xilinx, according to the suit. “When Mr. Ward finally noticed his Allied co-workers’ discomfort he proclaimed ‘I’m the client I can say this,’” the suit said. Xilinx did not immediately provide answers to questions about the lawsuits’ claims. The lawsuit comes as the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct toward women has taken hold in Silicon Valley, roiling tech companies and venture capital firms. About a week after the Xilinx party, Lobach went to Xilinx HR and outlined the concerns the female contractors had about the alleged harassment, the suit said. Lobach was fired the next day, according to the suit. Lobach’s suit was filed Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court claims. Lobach is seeking unspecified damages.



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