Pinterest, a $21 billion company that markets mostly to women on its virtual pinboards, is accused by its former chief operating officer of rampant sexism, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. She alleges she was fired for speaking out about disparate treatment between female and male top executives.
As The New York Times reports, the former COO says in her San Francisco Superior Court lawsuit that she was excluded out of key meetings, given professional feedback that was highly gendered and she was paid less than her male peers when she was first brought on. She learned the pay disparity after the company filed to go public last year. She talked about how decisions were often made in informal discussions among male colleagues; the “meeting after the meeting.” Despite being the No. 2 executive, she said she endured a culture of constant exclusion. When she ultimately spoke up about it, she said, she was dismissed (the dispute compared to a domestic squabble), maligned (told she wasn’t working collaboratively enough) and ultimately fired.
As our Orange County gender discrimination lawyers can explain, this type of discriminatory action in the upper echelons of corporate America may look slightly different than at other levels, particularly as it can be more subtle. But one thing our employment lawyers have noted no matter the pay grade is that workers who speak out about unfair treatment may find themselves may find themselves a target of demotion, loss of benefits or firing. This in itself is an illegal act called retaliation.
Gender discrimination in the tech industry is nothing new, something we’ve addressed repeatedly in our employment law blog. What is somewhat unique about this case, aside from the prominence of those involved, is that this particular tech company almost exclusively markets to women. By some sources, 71 percent of Pinterest users are female and the company reaches approximately 83 percent of women ages 25 to 54. That means the company is going to have a substantial incentive not to get into a protracted legal battle detailing allegations of sexism.
California Gender Discrimination Law
Gender Discrimination is against the law in California under both state and federal law. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Fair Pay Act both make it unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex. This includes refusing to hire, termination, job benefits or other conditions of employment. Employees who perform work that is substantially similar must be paid the same. Companies can show differential wages with the use of a seniority system, merit system, a system that measures earnings by production value or some other bona fide factor beyond sex.
Sometimes, gender discrimination is blatant and obvious. But many employers recognize by now that it’s against the law, so those that still engage in it may be more cautious in how they carry it out. They may ensure there are no other witnesses. They may not put it in writing. They may find pretextual excuses for the actions they’re taking. This is why consulting with an experienced Orange County gender discrimination lawyer as soon as possible is imperative – even if you haven’t been fired. We’ll assess the facts and help you gather the necessary evidence to start building a case.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Pinterest Accused of Gender Bias in Suit by Former No. 2 Executive, Aug. 11, 2020, By Erin Griffith, The New York Times