Francoise Brougher, former Chief Operating Officer at Pinterest, has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of Gender Discrimination, Retaliation, And Wrongful Termination. The lawsuit, filed in the San Francisco County Superior Court, begins:
Even at the very top ranks of a public company, female executives can be targeted for sex discrimination and retaliation. Although Pinterest markets itself to women looking for inspiration, the company brazenly fired its top female executive for pointing out gender bias within Pinterest’s male-dominated leadership team. For two years, Plaintiff Francoise Brougher was Pinterest’s high-performing Chief Operating Officer and helped take the company public. However, whereas male executives were rewarded for strong leadership styles, Ms. Brougher was criticized for not being compliant or collaborative enough. In addition, Ms. Brougher was offered a less favorable compensation structure than her male peers and had to fight for equal treatment. Finally, when Ms. Brougher complained to the head of Human Resources and to Chief Executive Officer Ben Silbermann that Pinterest’s Chief Financial Officer made demeaning sexist comments to her, and she asked for help to remedy the hostile work environment, Mr. Silbermann summarily fired her over a video call.
Instead of taking her complaint seriously, investigating it properly, and doing the hard work to address her concerns about gender discrimination and hostility, Pinterest fired Ms. Brougher to protect the comfort of her male peers. In an attempt to cover up Ms. Brougher’s complaints, Pinterest tried to create a fiction that her firing was a voluntary departure. Ms. Brougher’ s termination solidified Pinterest’ s unwelcoming environment for women and minorities by imposing a high cost to challenging the men at the top.
Although Pinterest publicly laments the lack of diversity in its leadership, in practice, it turns a blind eye to the biased thinking that limit women’s opportunities for success in leadership roles. By terminating an outspoken leader with Ms. Brougher’s impressive
credentials, Pinterest further entrenched its workplace inequities.
Ms. Brougher alleges the lawsuit “was brought to change Pinterest’s culture of gender bias and to hold Pinterest accountable for discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and the Labor Code.”
We will follow this case closely as it proceeds to trial.