On Monday, Pinterest settled a San Francisco County Superior Court lawsuit brought by its former COO, Françoise Brougher, for $22.5 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. $20 million will be paid to plaintiff Brougher and her attorneys, and Pinterest will use the remaining $2.5 million commitment to help advance women and underrepresented communities in the tech industry.
In Brougher’s August complaint, she claimed that she was paid less than her male colleagues, not included in important meetings, and given gendered feedback or comments by at least one of her colleagues. Additionally, the complaint noted that “whereas male executives were rewarded for strong leadership styles, Ms. Brougher was criticized for not being compliant or collaborative enough.” The complaint said when she spoke about gender discrimination, she was fired. Brougher asserted that the company “tried to create a fiction that her firing was a voluntary departure.” In addition, she also published a blog post about her experience. The complaint came after two former Pinterest public policy officials spoke out about the racism and sexism they experienced as Black women in the company. There also have been other reports of discrimination at Pinterest.
In a joint statement to The Verge, Brougher and Pinterest stated, “Pinterest recognizes the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture. 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.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with The New York Times, Brougher stated, “I’m glad Pinterest took this very seriously. I’m hoping it’s a first step in creating a better work environment there.” She added, “My goal was about accountability and driving change. Sharing the settlement publicly helps raise awareness more broadly.” Additionally, a Pinterest spokesperson stated, “Pinterest has acted swiftly to make changes needed to ensure that all employees feel supported and included.”