In an industry dominated by males, there is a twist to the sexual harassment accusations against a Yahoo tech executive by a software engineer formerly employed with the company. Both are females.
The former engineer recently filed a complaint alleging that she was wrongfully terminated and subjected to emotional distress and sexual harassment by the senior engineering director. The executive was the prior owner of Propeld that Yahoo acquired last year. Other companies for which she worked included Zillow and Microsoft.
Attorneys for the accuser say the two women worked at Propeld together but stated to CNNMoney that they were never intimate together until the alleged harassment began while both were at Yahoo. The accuser joined the Yahoo ranks in February 2013 with the executive supervising her directly.
According to the complaint, the engineer was “coerced” into participating in sex acts with her supervisor against her will on numerous occasions at the engineer’s Sunnyvale apartment provided by Yahoo.
The executive reportedly spoke of the “bright future” her subordinate would enjoy at Yahoo if she complied with the advances. The complaint states that she was also threatened with having everything “take[n] . . . away from her.”
Eventually the engineer refused to submit and rejected her supervisor’s sexual advances. It was then that her performance reviews began to tank, and she was given projects of little importance.
Complaints to human resources did not resolve the situation, as Yahoo never properly investigated the allegations and terminated the engineer.
The plaintiff’s attorney accused the tech companies in Silicon Valley of hypersensitivity because their operations rely on systems of perception and money. He said, “Instead of dealing with the issue like they should have, their immediate response is to deny, deny.”
A spokesperson for Yahoo released a statement to CNNMoney refuting the accusations against their executive and referred to her as an “exemplary” employee.
When companies don’t properly investigate sexual harassment allegations, they force their workers to rely on the civil court system to bring them justice.
Source: CNN, “Female Yahoo exec sued for sexual harassment” Laurie Segall, Jul. 14, 2014