Emerging augmented reality startup Magic Leap alleges that its current director of global security tried to extort the company for "millions of dollars" by threatening to file frivolous lawsuits against her. In a complaint filed yesterday, the company asked a Texas court to preemptively declare that Magic Leap did not discriminate against or retaliate against Todd Keil, a former employee of the Department of Homeland Security who joined Magic Leap in 2015. that Keil was preparing to "falsely" pose as a victim of unfair employment practices "and sue Magic Leap for violating age discrimination and whistleblower protection laws.
Magic Leap describes Keil, who he hired as senior director of global security, as a disconnected employee with a "big misunderstanding" of market regulations and practices in his field. Among the more general complaints about Keil's performance, Magic Leap says he did not show up at a "high-risk" meeting where an employee with a "history of erratic behavior" was being fired, and who paid $ 250,000 over the price. of the market to hire a security company with which he had a "personal relationship". In December, Keil allegedly hired a lawyer to tell Magic Leap that he was filing lawsuits under Florida whistleblower protection and acts of age discrimination.
The lawsuit does not specify exactly how Keil demanded money from Magic Leap, but said the claims were "an effort to extort millions of dollars" from the company.
"Mr. Keil believes that Magic Leap does not want these elements to be disclosed in the public forum and has demanded the payment of millions of dollars of Magic Leap in exchange for not publicly presenting these baseless allegations of complainants." Mr. Keil perceives that has influence to use this confidential information on these security-related matters, which are covered by a Confidentiality / Non-Disclosure Agreement that he signed when he joined Magic Leap, because if they are exposed, they can generate serious adverse consequences for Magic Leap. continuous development ".
Magic Leap has endured multiple lawsuits involving its own employees. Two former executives sued in 2016, alleging that they had been unfairly dismissed and stole shares of the company. Magic Leap sued the same two employees for embezzling trade secrets, and the entire dispute was resolved last year. In February 2017, the company was hit by a sex discrimination lawsuit by another former employee, who was also later established with Magic Leap.
Magic Leap has already resolved two lawsuits with former employees
According to Magic Leap, Keil planned to make claims that were incorrect or misleading. In one case, Magic Leap employees and partners apparently received several HoloLens headphones as part of Microsoft's pilot development program, but (according to Magic Leap) they quickly sent them all. He says that Keil falsely claims that a manager planned for Magic Leap to keep one of the devices, potentially for reverse engineering, and that the company retaliated against him for discussing the risks involved in keeping the headphones.
In another incident, Keil allegedly warned the company unnecessarily not to hire interns from Iran and China or to work with a London-based joint stock company owned by a Chinese company with military intelligence links. In a third, Magic Leap says it accused the company of spying on it with a digital camera, which according to the company is a visibly located device designed to test vulnerabilities in the security system.
The alleged allegations of discrimination by age of Keil are more nebulous, but supposedly involve staying out of meetings or refusing salary increases, among other things. Keil did not immediately respond to a request for comments from The Verge through LinkedIn.
Magic Leap has historically been reluctant to reveal details about its business or products, but unveiled an augmented reality headset called Magic Leap One in December, setting a release date for this year. This case is much less dramatic than previous claims, but it reinforces the descriptions of complaints about a conflicting workplace.