Zia Chishti to step down as CEO of Infiniti
The chief executive of Infiniti, an artificial intelligence software company, has resigned, the company said Thursday, two days after a former employee testified before a congressional committee that the executive had sexually assaulted her and beaten.
The board of directors of the company said that the executive, Zia Chishti, who also founded the company, had “resigned as chairman, managing director and director of Infiniti, with immediate effect”, according to a statement. published on the company’s website.
“The board of directors will make additional organizational announcements in the coming days,” the statement said.
Former employee Tatiana Spottiswoode testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that Mr Chishti harassed her for months after she started working for the company in 2016, when she had about 23 years old.
She said he emailed her describing a sexual fantasy he had strangled her in and once grabbed her buttocks in front of other employees.
Then, during a business trip to Brazil in 2017, he sexually assaulted and beat her, Ms Spottiswoode said. When she hired lawyers and accused him of assaulting her, she said, he filed for arbitration against her.
“He knew the secrecy of the arbitration would protect him,” Ms. Spottiswoode said.
Ms Spottiswoode said that when she started at Afiniti, she signed a contract which included “an arbitration agreement with a strong confidentiality clause”.
On the same day that Ms Spottiswoode testified, a spokeswoman for Finiti said in a statement that the company had investigated the claims “with independent counsel and concluded that the arbitration award she was referring to was in error” .
“Zia Chishti strongly disputes all the charges against him,” spokeswoman Natalie Cerny said at the time. Joined Friday, Ms. Cerny declined to comment on the matter.
Mr Chishti, 50, said on Friday he had denied “all the allegations”.
“I believe the evidence does not support them,” he said. “Quite the contrary. “
Mr. Chishti added that he “deeply supports women in the workplace”.
“It’s one of my priorities to see that they are doing absolutely as well as they can,” he said. “As a result, these allegations are particularly hurtful.”
Ms Spottiswoode’s testimony also led David Cameron, the former UK Prime Minister, to resign as chairman of the company’s advisory board, according to the BBC.
Mr Cameron said in a statement to the BBC that he understood the allegations were disputed, but that he “did not agree with the approach taken by the company in responding to the case”.
Ms Spottiswoode was one of four women who testified before the committee, which was considering legislation that would do away with forced arbitration for victims of sexual assault and harassment. Forced arbitration often requires an employee to initiate private proceedings with their employer after they have brought a charge of misconduct at work, according to lawmakers.
On Wednesday, the committee agreed 27-14 to bring the bill to the House for a vote. The bill enjoys bipartisan support.