Jessica Wyman alleged in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that her boss Yasuhisa Iida on several occasions held her close, kissed her on the cheek, made inappropriate comments and even told her he loved her, before sabotaging her job after learning she had a boyfriend. Iida is president of San Mateo-based Rakuten Americas, a subsidiary of the Japanese e-commerce and communications giant whose sponsorship deal with the Golden State Warriors NBA team, reportedly worth $60 million over three years, puts “Rakuten” on players’ jerseys.
Rakuten did not respond to a request for comment. However, it has filed a response to the suit’s allegations, and counter-sued Wyman, accusing her of misappropriating and deleting company documents for her own financial gain. “Wyman’s conduct was knowing, intentional and reprehensible,” the counter-suit alleged. “Rakuten U.S.A. is dedicated to the hiring, retention and promotion of talented individuals with potential and eagerness to learn and succeed regardless of their sex or gender.”
An executive assistant to the head of human relations, Wyman was frequently invited by Iida to expensive dinners in the Bay Area, at which he often “over-indulged” in alcohol, the suit claimed. Wyman, a single mother who relied on her job to support herself and her child, agreed to the dinners to maintain her job security and ensure she wasn’t seen as unmotivated or unfriendly, the suit claimed. He took her to dinner on her birthday and told her he and his wife were in an open relationship and could date other people, a discussion that made Wyman uncomfortable, the suit alleged.
Iida told Wyman she resembled his blonde, blue-eyed college girlfriend, saying he regretted not marrying the woman, the suit claimed. Wyman was “overwhelmed by the blurred lines of personal and professional subject matter which routinely took place during dinners with Iida,” the suit claimed.
About a year after she started at Rakuten, Iida invited her to his apartment to help him with redecoration, the suit alleged. She found his personal requests inappropriate and outside her duties, but complied because Iida was her supervisor, the suit claimed. At his apartment, in the master bedroom, Iida looked at the bed and asked Wyman which side of the bed she slept on, prompting her to quickly leave the room “to avoid further suggestive remarks,” the suit alleged.
Iida continued inviting her out, and repeated his unwanted hugs, kissing her on the cheek while embracing her, the suit alleged. He sent her flowers at her home, told her he wanted an American girlfriend that looked like her, and said he loved her, the suit claimed.
Although Wyman had been an “exemplary employee” nicknamed “Oracle” by colleagues for her strategic vision, Iida began giving her poor performance reviews and feedback, and taking away her work responsibilities, the suit claimed. Then, though she was on track to become a company director, she was demoted and made to report to a woman in an equivalent-level position, the suit alleged.
Responding to the suit, Rakuten said in its counter-suit that it had promoted Wyman, of Walnut Creek, to a leadership position, in keeping with its dedication to advancing careers of talented workers without regard to their sex. In its response to her lawsuit, the company called her suit “unintelligible” and said all the company’s actions toward her were non-discriminatory and caused her no harm.
When Rakuten learned of Wyman’s accusations, it “conducted a prompt and reasonable investigation … and took all necessary and appropriate action,” the company said in its response. Rakuten also alleged that Wyman, before filing her suit, failed to comply with the requirement in her employment contract that workplace disputes be arbitrated.
“She deleted some personal stuff and then garden-variety stuff that all employees delete in the normal course and scope of their employment,” Josh Gruenberg said. “Total harassment and retaliation.”
Wyman is seeking unspecified damages.
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