The former chief operating officer of Pinterest has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of gender discrimination. Françoise Brougher, who says she was abruptly fired from the company in April, is suing the company to hold her “responsible for discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of the Employment and Fair Housing Act (FEHA), and Labor Code, “According to a trial Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court. (The full text of the presentation is embedded below.)
Pinterest said in June this year that there were about 400 million monthly active users, most of them women. But its main leaders are all men. “Ironically, although Pinterest is shown to women as a source of inspiration in lifestyle, the company̵7;s management team is male-dominated, and biased attitudes toward gender are prevalent,” the lawsuit states.
Prior to joining Pinterest in March 2018, Brougher held executive positions in Square, Google and Charles Schawb. Brougher claimed in her lawsuit that she was employed with a less favorable capital compensation package than her male peers. She claimed she was also left out of key decision-making by other executives; subjected to a hostile work environment; and was eventually fired by chief executive Ben Silbermann when she spoke out against her treatment.
In a Medium Post published today, Brougher wrote, “I have always been a private person, but I am opening up about my experience because if someone from my privilege and seniority is fired to talk about these issues, the situation is likely “much worse. for people earlier in their careers.”
Brougher’s case against Pinterest comes two months after two former Black employees, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, accused the company of unequal pay, racial discrimination and revenge.
At the time Brougher was hired, the lawsuit says she was told the Pinterest board directed executives to get the capital grants back. Its capital grant stipulated that only 10% of the shares had been awarded in the first year; followed by 20% the second year; 30% third year; and 40% fourth year. Brougher assumed that this holding schedule was standard for Pinterest executives.
When the company applied to go public last year, however, Brougher realized as he looked at his S-1 submission that her male peer equity grants were not overburdened. Brougher’s compensation was settled after she raised concerns with Silbermann, who directed her to Pinterest’s human resources department.
Brougher says she was not invited to Pinterest’s IPO Street, despite being her COO and knowing a lot from the company’s investors.
Following Pinterest’s initial public offering in April 2019, Brougher says she was no longer invited to the board meeting, even though her team members were occasionally – sometimes without her knowledge. “As Pinterest COO, Ms. Brougher no longer had a significant engagement with the company board,” the lawsuit states.
Brougher’s lawsuit also alleges that she began to receive more critical feedback, citing a study by tech executive Kiernan Snyder called the “Abrasiveness Trap,” which found that women were rated more negatively than men in 248 reviews collected by 28 companies. of different sizes. Snyder found that 87.9% of estimates for women contain critical feedback, compared to 58.9% of estimates for men. Their personalities were at the center of criticism in 75.5% of critical reviews for women, compared to only 2.4% of critical reviews received by men.
The lawsuit says Silbermann criticized Brougher for “non-cooperation and told her she did not have consistently healthy inter-functional relationships”. When Brougher asked her for more details, she claims that “he told her to be silent, saying she should be ‘aware’ of how she acted in a group setting.”
Pinterest chief financial officer Todd Morgenfeld is also suspected of becoming “increasingly disrespectful” to Brougher’s start in January 2020, undermining her authority by ignoring her and speaking directly to her team members.
At a meeting, Brougher says Morgenfeld sarcastically asked “What is your job anyway?” Silbermann would also expect to make important strategic decisions after the meetings Brougher attended, meeting with one or two male colleagues after she left.
In February, the lawsuit says Brougher received a review from colleagues written by Morgenfeld, even though she had not been asked to review it. Despite Brougher’s work on the Pinterest IPO, the advertising base and the money-making strategy in Europe, the lawsuit states that “Morgenfeld’s only the comment of her achievements for 2019 was: “It seems to be a champion for diversity issues”.
During a phone call with Morgenfeld on February 21, 2020, Brougher says she tried to address his reactions, but that he got angry during the call, raised his voice, called her a liar, and questioned the value she brought to Pinterest before depended on it.
After the call, Brougher says she texted Silbermann and told him it had not gone well. On February 24, she met with Pinterest Chief Human Resources Officer Jo Dennis and said she wanted to find a way to work with Morgenfeld, but it was an awkward meeting just with her. Instead of mediating between Brougher and Morgenfeld, the lawsuit alleges that Dennis treated the case as a possible legal issue, escalating it to Pinterest internal councils.
On the same day, Brougher also met with Silbermann. The court reported that Silbermann compared the situation between Morgenfeld and Brougher to “an old couple fighting over who would make coffee”.
Then on April 2, Silbermann told Brougher that she was being laid off and told her to transfer her responsibilities to Morgenfeld next month. He also asked her to tell her team that she had made the decision to leave, which she refused to do. Brougher claims that its completion cost her “tens of millions of dollars in lost profits and compensation of her own capital”.
Brougher is being represented by law firm Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe, which also represented Ellen Pao in her gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins.
TechCrunch has reached out to Pinterest for comment. In a statement to the New York Times, a Pinterest representative said the company is conducting an independent review of its culture, policies and practices.
BROUGHER_VS_PINTEREST.pdf from TechCrunch on Scribd