Twitter hit with gender discrimination class action lawsuit

Adam Westlake - Mar 22, 2015, 8:00am CDT
Twitter hit with gender discrimination class action lawsuit

A class action lawsuit was filed against Twitter late last week in San Francisco, with a former software engineer alleging the company’s promotion process is discriminatory towards women. This comes at a time when such lawsuits are becoming common in Silicon Valley, as a separate legal complaint was also filed recently against Facebook by a former employee claiming gender discrimination. In the Twitter case, Tina Huang, who worked for the company between 2009 and 2014, says she was passed over for a Senior Staff Engineer position for no good reason.

Amid the details of the lawsuit, Twitter’s promotion process is described as relying on a “black box” system, where there are no formal postings of open positions. Instead, employees must hope to be notified of the opening by a “shoulder tap,” or told about it directly from a manager. In this type of situation, an employee could go unaware of a job they could apply for simply because someone in-the-know didn’t give them the head’s up.

The lawsuit continues that the mostly male upper management make all the decisions with regards to hiring, and this creates an environment that favor men, whether intentional or not. Huang says after she was overlooked, she complained directly to CEO Dick Costolo. Following that, she was put on administrative leave and eventually let go.

Promotion into Twitter’s senior technical positions is based on subjective judgments, by committees that are comprised of and dependent on upper management at Twitter, and predominantly male. These judgments are tainted with conscious or unconscious prejudices and gender-based stereotypes, which explains why so few women employees at Twitter advance to senior and leadership positions.

Speaking to The Verge, a Twitter spokesperson said that Huang was not fired, but resigned voluntarily after leadership tried to persuade her to stay, adding, “Twitter is deeply committed to a diverse and supportive workplace, and we believe the facts will show Ms. Huang was treated fairly.”

SOURCE Pando Daily


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