Pinterest settled a $22.5 million gender discrimination suit on Monday, agreeing to pay out the sum to its former chief operating officer Françoise Brougher, the sole plaintiff of the suit.
Brougher took legal action against her employer in August, according to the New York Times, accusing the company of retaliating against her when she confronted higher-ups about sexism in the workplace.
She worked at the company from March 2018 until this past April, when she said she was abruptly fired “not for the results I achieved, but for not being ‘collaborative,’” Brougher wrote in a lengthy Medium post that arrived simultaneous with her lawsuit. “I believe that I was fired for speaking out about the rampant discrimination, hostile work environment, and misogyny that permeates Pinterest.”
In the post, Brougher said that she had been “disinvited” from important meetings by the company’s CEO, Ben Silbermann, received gendered feedback from CFO Todd Morgenfeld, and learned that she was on a different vesting schedule than the rest of the executive team. While publicly, Pinterest projects a twee, women-friendly image—in 2014, one-third of all women in the U.S. who used the internet were Pinterest users—women inside the company experienced “blatant gender discrimination” and toxicity, Brougher said.
The terms of Monday’s settlement mean Pinterest does not admit fault for any of the allegations leveled in Brougher’s lawsuit (or her Medium post). However, in a statement to the Times, a Pinterest spokesperson said that the company has taken steps to make “all employees feel supported and included.”
Brougher said she would like to see more women in the C-suite, an aspiration I can’t say I wholeheartedly share. The last few years have made it clear that having a women executive doesn’t necessarily mean a more equitable workplace for all women; it is by no means a cure-all to a company’s toxic culture. But it goes without saying that women deserve to be treated equally in the workplace, and that they certainly shouldn’t be retaliated against for speaking up when they are not.
“I’m glad Pinterest took this very seriously,” Brougher told the Times on Monday. “I’m hoping it’s a first step in creating a better work environment there.”