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Ex-COO sues Pinterest, says she was fired after complaining of gender discrimination

A Pinterest pin on a map
Pinterest faced similar public complaints in June by two women who worked on the company’s policy team. Above, a Pinterest-logo pin on a map at the firm’s San Francisco headquarters.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Pinterest Inc. former Chief Operating Officer Francoise Brougher alleges in a lawsuit that she was fired in April after speaking up about gender discrimination by the online scrapbooking company’s male-run leadership team.

Brougher said she was excluded from board meetings and eventually fired after she complained to the human resources department about sexist comments by the San Francisco firm’s chief financial officer. Instead of “doing the hard work” to address her concerns, Brougher said, the company chose to “protect the comfort” of her male peers.

Brougher also said she was paid less than her male counterparts and was criticized for not being “compliant” or “collaborative” enough. Pinterest faced similar public complaints in June by two women who worked on the company’s policy team and also alleged they were fired for speaking out about gender and racial discrimination, prompting Chief Executive Ben Silbermann to admit, “parts of our culture are broken.” The company hired a team of outside lawyers to investigate.

“Her experience is common to women and minorities who do not have informal handshake relationships with their male colleagues and are regularly excluded from the rooms where decisions are made,” Brougher said in the complaint, filed Tuesday in state court in San Francisco.

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Pinterest didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Brougher alleges the company tried to cover up her firing, which she says cost her millions of dollars in lost earnings.

Brougher was the top female executive at Pinterest. She is well-known in Silicon Valley and had also worked at Google and Square.


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