Pinterest’s former chief operating officer, Françoise Brougher, has accused the company of firing her for “ speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment and misogyny ” in the company.
Brougher, the top female executive at the company, suddenly left Pinterest in April this year with no explanation given.
But in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Brougher accused the $ 21 billion virtual bulletin board company of firing her after complaining about sexist treatment.
Brougher claims in a lawsuit filed in San Francisco’s Superior Court that she was barred from important meetings, paid less than male colleagues, and received gender-specific feedback.
Pinterest is expected to defend the claim.
Brougher accuses the $ 21 billion virtual bulletin board business of firing her after complaining about sexist treatment
She claims she was eventually fired from the position she has held since 2018 by CEO Ben Silbermann after raising concerns about her treatment.
‘When men speak out, they are rewarded. When women speak out, they get fired, ”she told the New York Times.
Brougher was responsible for the company’s revenue as COO and had approximately 1,000 employees reporting to her.
She only found out she was paid less than male co-workers when Pinterest, which has a particularly large female audience, filed for disclosure last year.
“Even at the very top of a publicly traded company, female executives can be the target of gender discrimination and retaliation,” the lawsuit said.
While Pinterest markets itself to women looking for inspiration, the company brutally fired its top female executive for pointing out gender bias within Pinterest’s male-dominated leadership team.
Referring to a culture of “ constant exclusion, ” Brougher claims she was not invited to board meetings after Pinterest went public.
However, members of her team were occasionally invited to those meetings without her knowledge, adds the suit.
She also wasn’t invited to the “ roadshow ” to meet with investors for the company’s public offering, the suit claims.
Brougher says she was banned from meetings by Pinterest’s CEO Silbermann (left), making it ‘impossible’ to do her job. Pictured right is Todd Morgenfeld, Chief Financial Officer, at Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco, California
“If you’re brought in as number 2, you’re expected to advise the CEO,” she said. “But if you’re not in the meeting where the decisions are made and don’t have the context, your job becomes more difficult.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Pinterest’s finance director Todd Morgenfeld asked her in front of colleagues, “ What is your job anyway? ” And that she gave her feedback that she thought was sexist.
Brougher claims that Morgenfeld raised his voice and ended the conversation when she questioned him about this via video chat.
CEO Silbermann was dismissive of her concerns about Morgenfield, the lawsuit alleges.
Court records allege that Silbermann compared the situation to a domestic dispute. HR handled it as a legal matter, the suit added.
Shortly after talking to Morgenfeld, Silbermann fired Brougher during a video call.
She claims Pinterest asked her to announce it was her decision to leave and sign a nondisclosure agreement, which she declined to do.
Brougher’s lawsuit also claims that her stock exchanges were ‘paid out’, meaning that most of them were acquired after a number of years, but her male colleagues’ were not.
The suit says her compensation was adjusted after she complained.
Brougher added that after she was fired, no board member called ‘to hear my side of the story or discuss what had happened’
Brougher, who previously held leadership positions at both Square and Google, published a 4,000-word blog post after the lawsuit was filed.
She wrote, “I believe I was fired for speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment and misogyny pervading Pinterest.”
“It is time to eliminate the” boys’ clubs “that dominate far too many companies and make room for more women leaders and their ideas,” she added.
Although she did not refer to the lawsuit in her post, Brougher described several ways she was allegedly assaulted on Pinterest.
She specifically says she was banned from meetings by Silbermann, making it ‘impossible’ to do her job.
“I had to waste time and energy determining what was happening in a company where I would be a leader,” she wrote.
Although she did not refer to the lawsuit in her post, Brougher described several ways she was allegedly assaulted on Pinterest
She also said that Morgenfeld wrote in her performance review that her biggest achievement at the company was standing up for diversity issues.
“Reducing the performance of a female leader to ‘diversity’ is a common form of gender discrimination,” she wrote. “Being a woman at Pinterest wasn’t my only achievement.”
After being asked to say she had Pinterest on her own terms, “ I had no intention of lying to my team and did not sign the NDA offered to me, ” Brougher wrote.
“I realized it was more important to finally be an advocate for women at Pinterest, and for anyone experiencing the harmful effects of sexism, bias, and retaliation.”
She added that after she was fired, not a single board member called “to hear my side of the story or discuss what had happened.”
Brougher claims in her blog that other women on Pinterest were also discriminated against.
Brougher claims in her blog that other women on Pinterest were also discriminated against
She wrote: “Certain teams were unable to hold women because the workplace was so toxic. Some women were offered spot bonuses, not just to stay with the company, but to get it out in certain areas that were particularly fraught.
Women were pushed out for being too outspoken, others for being too caring. Many women felt they were below the level when they were hired and could not get a promotion. ‘
Brougher then wrote an eight-step list that she recommended to both Pinterest and other organizations for improving work culture.
The second recommendation was to “recognize and dismantle the system of gender bias.”
Brougher wrote, “We must stop punishing women for the kind of strong leadership that men reward and eradicate the micro-aggressions that eradicate the ability of women leaders to be successful.”
Pinterest has been contacted for comment.