Lawsuit Accuses Yahoo CEO Of Discriminating Against Men

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Marissa MayerMarissa Mayer

A former Yahoo employee has accused CEO Marissa Mayer and other female executives at the company of discriminating against men.

“Mayer encouraged and fostered the use of [an employee performance-rating system] to accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo’s male employees,” Scott Ard, who was fired from Yahoo in 2015 after 3.5 years, alleges in the lawsuit, according to The Mercury News.

Ard, now the editor-in-chief at Silicon Valley Business Journal, also alleges in the lawsuit that Yahoo illegally fired large numbers of employees, regardless of gender, with a performance-rating system imposed by Mayer.

Two other female executives at Yahoo are also named in the suit: Kathy Savitt, former chief marketing officer; and Megan Liberman, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News. Lieberman was Yahoo’s vice president when Ard worked there and is named as such in the lawsuit. Both women are accused of discriminating on the basis of gender.

“When Savitt began at Yahoo the top managers reporting to her … including the chief editors of the verticals and magazines, were less than 20 percent female," the lawsuit states.

Ard's lawsuit continues:

Within a year and a half, those top managers were more than 80 percent female. Savitt has publicly expressed support for increasing the number of women in media and has intentionally hired and promoted women because of their gender, while terminating, demoting or laying off male employees because of their gender.

Of the approximately 16 senior-level editorial employees hired or promoted by Savitt … in approximately an 18-month period, 14 of them, or 87 percent, were female.

Ard states in the lawsuit that from the time he was hired in 2011 until early 2014, when Savitt and Liberman began managing the company’s media section, his performance reviews and stock options reflected satisfactory work.

In June 2014, Liberman allegedly told him that his position as head of editorial programming of Yahoo’s home page was being given to a woman she recently hired. 

In January 2015, Liberman fired Ard during a performance review phone call because “his performance was not satisfactory.”

“Liberman stated that she was terminating [Ard] because she had not received a requested breakdown of [his] duties," the lawsuit says. "[Ard] had already provided that very information as requested, however, and reminded Liberman that he had done so."

Requests by Ard to receive a copy of his performance review and appeal his firing were denied, and he was “ordered to turn in his laptop and depart the premises immediately.”

Ard also alleges in the lawsuit that Mayer’s performance review process allowed high-level managers to change the scores of employees they did not directly work with, and it “permitted and encouraged discrimination based on gender or any other personal bias held by management.”

The lawsuit states that Liberman lowered the scores of three men whom Ard had evaluated, but did not make adjustments to the scores of two women.

Another lawsuit filed by a former male Yahoo employee alleges similar discriminatory practices against men, according to The Huffington Post.

The lawsuit, filed by Gregory Anderson, who worked in Yahoo’s media division until he was fired in November 2014, “alleges that Mayer encouraged and fostered the use of the QPR Program to accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo’s male employees.”

Savitt was also named in the lawsuit, and is accused of favoring women over men in regards to hiring decisions.

By using its performance-review system to individually fire multiple employees in a short period, Ard’s lawsuit alleges that Yahoo broke the U.S. and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification acts, which mandates that advance notification be given before mass layoffs occur, according to The Mercury News.

“Marissa Mayer became CEO on a wave of optimism and then engaged in a sleight of hand to terminate large numbers of employees without announcing a single layoff,” the lawsuit says.

Yahoo spokeswoman Carolyn Clark responded to Ard’s lawsuit, stating that "fairness" guides the company’s hiring and performance-review processes.

“This lawsuit has no merit. With the unwavering support of our CEO, we are focused on hiring employees with broad and varied backgrounds, and perspectives,” she said. “Our performance-review process was developed to allow employees at all levels of the company to receive meaningful, regular and actionable feedback from others.”

Sources: The Mercury News, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Adam Tinworth/Flickr

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