Pinterest has agreed to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by its former chief operating officer, Francoise Brougher, for $22.5 million.
The settlement, announced on Monday, includes a $2.5 million investment “to be used towards advancing women and underrepresented communities in the tech industry,” Brougher and the company said in a joint statement. Pinterest did not admit to liability as part of the settlement, a company spokesperson confirmed.
“Pinterest recognizes the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture,” the statement said. “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.”
News of the settlement was first reported by the New York Times.
The settlement brings to an end one of the most high-profile gender discrimination cases in Silicon Valley in recent memory. Brougher’s lawsuit, as well as allegations of racism and discrimination from two other former Pinterest employees in June, rattled the staff of the digital scrapbooking service, which is known for being a feel-good online destination.
Pinterest told CNN Business at the time that it had conducted an investigation and found that the two employees were “treated fairly.”
Brougher sued Pinterest in August. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, alleged that Pinterest “brazenly fired” Brougher after she complained about gender bias.
“Whereas male executives were rewarded for strong leadership styles, Ms. Brougher was criticized for not being compliant or collaborative enough,” the lawsuit said. “In addition, Ms. Brougher was offered a less favorable compensation structure than her male peers and had to fight for equal treatment.”
In her complaint, Brougher said she was fired over a video call by Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann after complaining to him and the head of human resources that the company’s chief financial officer, Todd Morgenfeld, made “demeaning sexist comments” toward her. She also alleged that Pinterest tried to “create a fiction” that her April 2020 departure was voluntary.
When asked on Monday for comment from Silbermann and Morgenfeld, who are not defendants in the lawsuit, Pinterest declined to comment beyond the joint statement with Brougher.
A Pinterest spokeswoman told the Times in August that the company was reviewing the case, and was committed to ensuring “all of our employees feel included and supported.” The company subsequently denied Brougher’s accusations in a court filing in September.
Brougher said in a tweet on Monday that she “will continue to advocate for workplace equity, including more women in the C-Suite.”
In June, the company hired an outside legal team to examine its workplace culture in response to accusations of racism and discrimination by two former Black employees. In a statement at the time, Silbermann said the law firm would review how Pinterest “evaluates, promotes, and compensates employees and how the company responds to and investigates complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”