Microsoft is being sued by a Seattle modeling agency, which claims that the company failed to pay for models hired to attend HoloLens promotional events, as well as making more serious allegations about one of its employees.
The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Seattle on Friday by Jennifer Kelly, founder of the Genesis Industries modeling agency. Kelly claims that Genesis was approached by Microsoft Studios producer and HoloLens program manager Jonathan Plumb in early 2015, to provide "brand ambassadors" for events promoting the holographic headset, and subsequently entered into an agreement with CoroWare, an official Microsoft supplier.
According to the complaint, Genesis models attended HoloLens events from June to December 2015, and the agency was initially paid through CoroWare, until the payments ended in August 2015. Genesis claims that it was then forced to pay for travel, hotel, and employment costs that should have been covered by that agreement. The lawsuit also claims that Plumb assured Genesis that those costs would be reimbursed, and that he promised that the agency would get further work from Microsoft.
Kelly went on to accuse Plumb of unprofessional conduct, and abusing his position at Microsoft. The complaint alleges that he made "hypersexualized comments" about Genesis models, and sexual advances towards Kelly, which she says were not reciprocated. She further claims that when she confronted Plumb about his behavior, he quickly limited Genesis' work on Microsoft projects, after which Microsoft abruptly terminated the contract through CoroWare without giving Genesis the 30 days' notice required under the agreement.
Kelly claimed that CoroWare subsequently poached several Genesis employees, and that Microsoft HoloLens events continue to use them through third-party companies.
In a statement to The Register, a Microsoft spokesperson said: "We are reviewing the complaint. Microsoft is committed to a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture where everyone has the chance to succeed."
CoroWare's phone number is currently out of service, and its website states that the company is "in the process of reorganization, and will be announcing a new strategic direction that will benefit shareholders."
Source: The Register