Former Pinterest COO claims she was fired after reporting sexism
The former Chief Operating Officer at Pinterest Inc., Francoise Brougher, has alleged in a lawsuit that she was fired in April after she addressed gender discrimination at the workplace. In a lengthy blog post, Brougher detailed the levels of alleged discriminatory behavior displayed by Pinterest's top management, including a lesser pay compared to her male peers. Here are more details.
Brougher filed lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court
In the lawsuit—filed in the San Francisco Superior Court—Brougher alleged she was disinvited from important meetings, received gendered feedback, was paid less than her male peers when she joined Pinterest, and was fired for speaking up about these issues, The New York Times reported. She said, "Gender discrimination at the C-level suite maybe a little more subtle, but it's very insidious and real."
Brougher's equity grants were allegedly 'backloaded'
Brougher claimed in the lawsuit that when Pinterest filed to go public in 2019, she learned her equity grants were "backloaded" (most of them vested after several years), while her executive male peers' were not. In her blog, she said, in her first year at Pinterest, she vested 37% of what her closest peer, Chief Financial Officer Todd Morgenfeld, vested in his first year.
Brougher wasn't invited to important meetings, lawsuit claimed
Brougher also claimed in the lawsuit that she was not invited on the "road show" to talk to investors for Pinterest's initial public offering. She was allegedly also not invited to board meetings when the company went public, even though members of her team were invited without her knowledge. Brougher said Morgenfeld once asked her, "What is your job anyway?" in front of peers.
'When you're not in meetings, it makes your job harder'
"When you are brought in as a No. 2, you are expected to advise the CEO," she told NYT. "But when you are not in the meeting where the decisions are made and don't have the context, it makes your job harder."
Brougher alleged she was fired after heated discussion with CFO
Brougher alleged that Morgenfeld offered her feedback once, that she viewed as sexist. When she addressed it on a video call, Morgenfeld raised his voice and hung up, the lawsuit said. Pinterest's chief executive Ben Silbermann was also allegedly dismissive of Brougher's concerns about Morgenfeld and compared it to a domestic dispute. In April, soon after the conversation with Morgenfeld, Brougher was terminated.
Brougher claimed she was asked to sign NDA about termination
Brougher said her termination was "buried in one line at the end of a revenue guidance revision due to COVID-19." "I wasn't going to lie to my team and didn't sign the NDA presented to me," she said, "It was more important to finally be an advocate for women at Pinterest, and for anyone else experiencing the pernicious effects of sexism, bias, and retaliation."
Here's how Pinterest responded
Reacting to the lawsuit filed by Brougher—who has previously held executive positions at Square and Google—a Pinterest spokesperson told NYT, "Our employees are incredibly important to us," adding that the company was committed to advancing its culture so "all of our employees feel included and supported." Pinterest—which has a large audience of female users—is conducting an independent review regarding its culture, policies, and practices.