Lawsuit says Oracle employee sexually assaulted

A female systems programmer has filed suit against Oracle Corp., alleging that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, harassed and discriminated against by her former male supervisor and the company did nothing to help or protect her after she reported him.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the woman, identified as “Barbara Doe” to protect her privacy, in California Superior Court in Alameda County by her attorney, John D. Winer. The lawsuit alleges violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act because the plaintiff was forced to endure a hostile work environment, quid pro quo sexual harassment and sex and national ethnic origins discrimination. It further alleges that she was retaliated against, sexually battered, assaulted, defamed and had intentional emotional distress inflicted upon her, as well as having her privacy invaded by her former supervisor, Mahesh Anand, who has since left the company and is also named as a defendant in the suit.

Anand could not be reached for comment. Oracle issued a written statement saying the company “takes any allegation of employee misconduct very seriously, and Oracle believes it has acted appropriately in this matter. The facts do not support the allegations made in the case but it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

“Barbara” was hired by Oracle at its offices in San Mateo, California, on June 14, 2000, and soon after Anand joined the company and was assigned the work station next to hers. He was named project manager in November of that year and asked her if she wanted to join his work team, which she did in February 2001, the lawsuit says. Both of them were born and educated in India and soon after he became her supervisor, Anand began to exploit their shared cultural heritage because he knew that managers there “can often exert unfettered power over their women subordinates,” the lawsuit says.

Anand, Sanjay Dey, who eventually became the woman’s supervisor, and other Oracle managers knew that Anand was sexually harassing and discriminating against “Barbara,” but “failed to take action to abate the wrongful conduct,” the lawsuit says. Oracle did not provide “appropriate orientation, training and supervision” for Anand after he became a project manager or after “Barbara” reported him to the company. Oracle’s failure to take action to stop Anand’s alleged behavior violates the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the suit says.

The alleged sexual assaults began when the plaintiff’s husband was out of the country in January this year. Anand called “Barbara” into his office and asked her a series of “personal and offensive” questions about her sex life and sexual preferences and allegedly tried to intimidate her by telling her, “You should learn the art of keeping your manager happy.” He then allegedly told her that Oracle was going to lay off employees soon, making her fear for her job, and then he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

When she did not go to work the next day, he called her repeatedly and then allegedly showed up at her house, where he pushed her onto a couch and sexually assaulted her, the lawsuit alleges.

Following another episode of alleged sexual assault in February, “Barbara” asked for an immediate leave of absence and confided in her husband, who offered her support and assisted her in reporting Anand to Oracle, the lawsuit says. She further filed a police report and the Foster City Police Department referred the case to the District Attorney’s Office of San Mateo County for possible prosecution. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office did not return a call seeking comment.