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Former Employees Sue Zuckerberg and Wife Over Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Published: November 1, 2021
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan arrive for the 8th annual Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California on November 3, 2019. (Image: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Two former household employees of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan have filed lawsuits against the billionaire couple and their various family-related business units. The ex-employees allege that they faced discrimination and sexual harassment.  

The two lawsuits were filed by the plaintiffs in the San Francisco County Superior Court on Sept. 20. Both Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan are named as defendants in each of the lawsuits, along with certain supervisors whom the plaintiffs claim have committed misconduct.

The lawsuits allege that the companies that manage the couple’s personal events are accountable for a number of crimes ranging from discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and sexual orientation as well as failure to pay wages.

The first lawsuit was filed by Mia King, who worked for a third-party security firm called Limitless Specialty Services LLC. Court documents described her as a black woman and member of the LGBTQ community. She served as a security operations assistant from May 2018 through February 2019.

In her 29-page complaint, King said that she was a victim of racial and sexual harassment and discrimination. Her complaint was targeted chiefly at former head of security Liam Booth, who referred to her as “ghetto” and used other inflammatory slurs. Booth also said that she did not deserve the job and was only hired because the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative insisted that a black woman be recruited for the job. 

King also affirmed that “overtly-sexualized comments directed at openly homosexual employees” were “frequently” made in her presence. Apart from this, King alleged that she was made to work on weekends without pay, with her supervisor claiming that it was due to her being “colored” to a certain degree.

When King tried to bring up the issues about the noxious work environment, she was advised by her superior Monica Moorhouse to “act accordingly” because “men are in leadership here, men are in power.” King was eventually fired in Feb. 2019.

The second complaint was filed by an unidentified man referred to as John Doe. He worked from January 2017 through March 2019 as a “Household Operations Manager.” Doe, who is openly gay and suffers from epilepsy, was sexually assaulted by Booth and treated unfairly due to his disability and sexual orientation. “Plaintiff was unlawfully insulted, ridiculed, demeaned, groped, propositioned, and sexually assaulted… Defendants were aware of this misconduct,” the lawsuit states.

Doe complained that Booth inquired about his sexuality and teased him with “lewd sex acts.” In July 2018, Doe was slapped on his groin by Booth at a sushi restaurant in front of other employees. In October 2018, Doe claimed that Booth groped his buttocks at Zuckerberg’s Montana property.

Throughout the course of his employment, Doe, who was responsible for supervising and managing various properties for the Zuckerberg family, was forced to work for more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. He was never compensated for this. In February 2019, Doe directly emailed Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan regarding his complaints but received no response from the couple. Instead, he was “constructively terminated” a few weeks later.

Ben LaBolt, a spokesperson for the Chan-Zuckerberg family, responded to the allegations by stating that the complaints have been investigated over a course of multiple weeks and no evidence of wrongdoing has been found. 

“Any complaint made to our HR personnel is taken seriously and is investigated and addressed… We are proud of the team of professionals who work in the family office and are confident that these claims, which seek to unfairly disparage our colleagues, will fail,” he said in an emailed statement. 

Both King and Doe have appealed for their cases to be heard before a jury. According to a statement by the Employee Justice Legal Group, the former employees “are eager to exercise their constitutional rights to have the truth heard.”