SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The CEO of Exigen Inc. has been accused of treating a Ukrainian woman as “his sexual plaything,” knowing her visa only allowed her to work for his company. The woman fled poverty and crime in her home country, only to be exploited by Greg Shenkman, according to a lawsuit in Superior Court.
In January 2004, Iryna Kharchenko applied for an executive assistant job with Exigen in Moscow. When she arrived for what she thought would be a one-on-one interview, she says she found herself in a room full of “model-like” young female applicants.
She says Shenkman spent most of the first interview “staring at Ms. Kharchenko’s breasts.”
She got the job and was flown to Exigen’s office in San Francisco, where she worked with another young woman from Russia.
She says Shenkman made repeated sexual advances, including kissing, groping, demanding sexual favors and “other grossly inappropriate conduct.” He allegedly forced her accompany him to his high school reunion in Kiev, Ukraine, and then sexually assaulted her in her hotel room.
The 28-page lawsuit lists a slew of other instances when Shenkman allegedly demanded sexual favors from his female employees.
“Defendants Shenkman and Exigen appeared to be abusing the immigration visa system in order to procure a steady stream of young, eastern European women to satisfy Defendant Shenkman’s sexual desires,” the lawsuit states. “Once in the United States, these young women find themselves tied to Exigen by their H-1B visas (which permit the visa holder to work only for the company through which they obtained the visa), trapped thousands of miles from home without families or friends, and at the mercy of a wealthy and influential sexual predator who does not know how to take ‘no’ for an answer.”
She seeks damages and an order “requiring Exigen to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment, retaliation and discrimination.”
Plaintiff counsel is Scott Bonagofsky.