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A former employee of Social Finance Inc., known as SoFi, alleged in a lawsuit Aug. 11 that the company permitted a culture where women were harassed and discriminated against and managers mishandled loan applications.

Now the plaintiff, Brandon Charles, has amended the complaint to include SoFi CEO Michael Cagney as a defendant in the case. In the new complaint, he claimed there is a toxic corporate culture “fostered at SoFi by [Cagney] and other executives … The culture of male bravado filters down from the leadership team at SoFi headquarters … throughout the company, empowering other managers to engage in sexual conduct in the workplace.”

The updated complaint filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court, also adds claims of defamation and slander. In it, Charles alleges that the CEO dedicated one of the fintech company’s weekly meetings to discussing Charles’ lawsuit.

Charles claims that, following the filing of his lawsuit, Cagney broadcast a company-wide video presentation on Aug. 17 “that painted [Charles] as a liar who fabricated claims.” 

“This defamatory company-wide video presentation irreparably damaged [Charles'] reputation in San Francisco where he has sought and/or may seek employment,” the complaint read.

The amended suit stated that in the presentation, Cagney claimed Charles “did nothing but complain from the very first day he started at SoFi” and “went on a tirade against the company. … The reality was that Mr. Charles was trying to help SoFi by reporting illegal or improper conduct.”

SoFi spokesperson Jim Prosser said in an emailed statement Friday that Charles’ claims “were investigated in depth by the company and found to have no merit.”

“These cases are brought by a lawyer who tells prospective clients on his YouTube channel that the facts and the law aren’t the most important factors in employment lawsuits,” Prosser wrote. “Apparently he prefers to defame companies and individuals with lurid rumor and innuendo in the hope he will be paid to go away. That’s unethical and wrong.”

Cagney did not personally respond for comment on the allegations made in the lawsuit.

Prosser declined to provide specifics about the discussions in the Aug. 17 meeting stating only that “it was a standard company meeting we hold every Thursday.”

Robert Ottinger, who is representing the plaintiff, said in a phone call Friday that several employees contacted Charles after the meeting describing what was said about him.

“[Charles is] being made out to be the bad guy,” Ottinger said. “A lot of CEOs would thank him for bringing this up to make a safer work environment for the women here. [Cagney] didn’t do that. He made light of the sexual harassment claims.”

Stephanie Forshee can be contacted sforshee@alm.com.

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