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Pinterest Reached a $22.5 Million Settlement in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

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Pinterest Reached a $22.5 Million Settlement in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

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Pinterest settled a lawsuit with their former Chief Operating Officer (COO) Francoise Brougher for $22.5 million after she brought allegations of gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and employer retaliation against the company.

Brougher joined Pinterest in March of 2018 and worked there until her termination in April of 2020.

Brougher was no stranger to the pressures of Silicon Valley. As a former executive at Square Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google, her experience as a female executive in the tech industry provided a valuable boon to the company, especially for an app that has a primarily female user base with a primarily male collection of company executives.

In April of 2020, she was allegedly fired after bringing up concerns regarding sexist treatment in the workplace. Brougher claims that she was left out of important meetings that other male executives were invited to, and that in addition to sexist comments from others in the company, she was also paid less than her male counterparts. In one of her blog posts, she highlighted the hostile nature of the work environment for women at Pinterest, describing executive level women as being “marginalized, excluded, and silenced.”

When an employee is fired for bringing up a matter of concern, this is considered employer retaliation.

When an employee blows the whistle on poor or illicit conduct happening in the workplace, especially in regard to a superior, it is not uncommon for the employer to respond by demoting, docking pay, or even terminating the employee out of retaliation. The Whistleblower Protection Act is designed to prevent workplace retaliation from occurring, but when it does, an employee like Brougher might be eligible to file a wrongful termination and retaliation claim.

Unlike other tech companies, Pinterest agreed to settle rather than fight the claim.

In similar gender discrimination lawsuits against Silicon Valley tech companies, the employer has typically fought back against the allegations. This lawsuit was unique in that although Pinterest did not admit liability, they did agree to both settle with Brougher for $20 million and to donate $2.5 million toward helping women and underrepresented communities advance within the tech industry. The company also announced that it will be investigating the allegations of gender hostility and discrimination in the workplace. In a joint statement released by Pinterest and Brougher after the settlement, they announced, “Pinterest recognizes the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture.”

Brougher’s experience is certainly not an outlier, especially in the tech industry but in executive work cultures in general. The hopes for this settlement is that Pinterest’s response indicates a willingness to increase inclusion among employees and management, and stands as an example to other companies facing similar problems. If you have experienced gender discrimination on the job, reach out to a workplace discrimination attorney to discuss your options for recovery.

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