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Pinterest settling former executive's gender discrimination lawsuit for $22.5M

Pinterest settling former executive's gender discrimination lawsuit for $22.5M
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Pinterest is paying $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by its former chief operating officer, Francoise Brougher, according to a joint announcement released by Pinterest and Brougher.

The settlement includes $2.5 million to be invested in charitable organizations that “promote women and underrepresented communities,” Brougher said in a series of tweets announcing the settlement on Monday. 

“I will continue to advocate for workplace equity, including more women in the C-Suite,” she tweeted. 

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“Pinterest recognizes the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture,” the joint statement reads. “Francoise welcomes the meaningful steps Pinterest has taken to improve its workplace environment and is encouraged that Pinterest is committed to building a culture that allows all employees to feel included and supported.”

Pinterest does not have to admit any liability as part of the agreement, a company spokesperson confirmed. 

Brougher filed the lawsuit against Pinterest in August. She alleged she was left out of important meetings, was given sexist feedback and was paid less than her male peers. Brougher accused the company of firing her after she spoke up about the treatment.  

A couple of months before Brougher filed the lawsuit, two Black women publicly spoke out alleging racial discrimination at the company. 

Ifeoma Ozoma, the former public policy and social impact manager, and Aerica Shimizu Banks, who worked in federal government relations, made their accusations against the company on Twitter. 

In response to news of Pinterest’s settlement with Brougher, Ozoma tweeted that she and Banks have been “treated like trash” by Pinterest leadership. 

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“This is it. All of it. We came forward about a company and harmful culture literally nobody had spoken about before on the record. With our identities attached, in the midst of a pandemic. We were and still are treated like trash by @Pinterest leadership. They said it all today,” she tweeted. 

Her tweet was in response to a post by Timnit Gebru, a top artificial intelligence (AI) researcher who said earlier this month she was fired from Google after voicing concerns about the handling of a report on AI bias. Google maintains they merely accepted Gebru’s resignation, and CEO Sundar Pichai said the company will review the process that led to Gebru's dismissal. 

“Its like tech companies are literally trying to figure out how many ways to tell Black women that they are discardable objects,” Gebru tweeted Tuesday. 

Under mounting pressure after the public allegations of discrimination, Pinterest announced in August that it had added its first Black member to its board of directors. The company also hired a new head of inclusion and diversity after the public accusations.

--Updated at 11:58 a.m.