Amid massive layoffs of nearly 1,700 staff, Yahoo is facing more problems with its employees: A former Yahoo employee filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming the company illegally fired him because of his gender and rigged performance reviews.
Gregory Anderson was fired from his Sunnyvale, California post as former editorial director for Yahoo’s cars, travel, small business, homes, and shopping sites in November 2014 after receiving a raise and promotion.
According to the lawsuit filed Monday with the federal district court for Northern California, Anderson was among the 600 Yahoo employees who scored too low on the company’s quarterly performance reviews — scoring a 2 or an “occasionally misses” on a five-point scale in at least one performance category — and were also terminated for it.
Anderson, who was attending a Yahoo-approved journalism fellowship at the time he was fired, claims his direct managers routinely promoted and hired women over men — even if they were less qualified — and Yahoo as a whole modified performance ratings to justify layoffs.
Based on the complaint, the gender bias favoring women stretched to the top with CEO Marissa Mayer, who reportedly agreed to downgrade a male employee’s performance rating because his direct manager found him annoying and “didn’t want to be around him.”
The lawsuit echoes similar complaints lodged against Microsoft last year, which claims the company’s performance review system was subjectively used to promote gender bias — against women.
Gender discrimination in the tech industry has been well-documented: Women are paid 40 percent less than their comparably skilled male counterparts, they receive more criticism in performance reviews, and two-thirds experience sexual harassment in the workplace. But in recent years, most major tech companies have become more transparent with their demographic statistics and more aggressive with their diversity outreach efforts.
Anderson’s complaint, however, is unique in that it asserts that Yahoo, under Mayer’s direction, is actively discriminating against men, when she has refuted claims that Silicon Valley has gender-based problems.
“I never play the gender card…The moment you play into that, it’s an issue,” Mayer previously told Medium. “In technology we live at a rare, fast-moving pace. There are probably industries where gender is more of an issue, but our industry is not one where I think that’s relevant.”