The chairman of the board of Afiniti, 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 abused and beaten her.
The company’s board of directors announced that managing director, Zia Chishti, who also founded the company, “has resigned from his role as chairman, CEO and director of Afiniti with immediate effect,” according to a statement posted on the company’s website.
“The board will make further organizational announcements in the coming days”, opinion called.
On Tuesday, Tatiana Spottiswoode, the former employee, testified before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that Mr. Chishti molested her for months after she started working for the company in 2016 when she was around 23 years old.
She said he emailed her describing a sexual fantasy in which he was strangling her and that he once grabbed her butt in front of other employees.
Then, while on a business trip to Brazil in 2017, he sexually abused and beat her, Ms. Spottiswoode testified. When she hired lawyers and accused him of attacking her, he filed an arbitration against her, she said.
“He knew arbitration secret would protect him,” said Ms. Spottiswoode.
Ms. Spottiswoode said that when she started at Afiniti, she signed a contract that included “an arbitration agreement with a strict confidentiality clause.”
On the same day Ms. Spottiswoode testified, an Afiniti spokeswoman said in a statement that the company “investigated the claims with an independent attorney and concluded that the arbitration award she cited was incorrect”.
“Zia Chishti firmly rejects all allegations against him,” said the spokeswoman Natalie Cerny at the time. Reached on Friday, Ms. Cerny declined to comment on the record.
Mr Chishti, 50, said Friday that he had “denied all allegations”.
“I don’t think the evidence backs it up,” he said. “But on the contrary.”
Mr. Chishti added that he “deeply supports women in the workplace”.
“One of my priorities is to see that you do absolutely as well as possible,” he said. “Therefore, these allegations are particularly hurtful.”
Ms. Spottiswoode’s testimony also resulted in David Cameron, the former UK Prime Minister, stepping down 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 controversial but that he “disagreed with the company’s approach in responding to the matter”.
Mrs. Spottiswoode was one of four women who testified before the committeewho pondered Laws that would abolish compulsory arbitration for victims of sexual assault and harassment. According to the legislature, compulsory arbitration procedures often require that an employee conduct a private proceeding with his employer after he has brought charges of misconduct in the workplace.
The committee agreed on Wednesday 27-to-14 put the bill to the House for a vote. The bill is supported by both parties.