A new lawsuit from a former Yahoo employee claims that Zamboni-loving CEO Marissa Mayer tried to purge the company of men. The lawsuit, filed by Scott Ard in San Jose federal court, accuses Mayer of fostering “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 was Yahoo’s editorial director, and worked at the company for 3.5 years. The Mercury News reports that in June 2014, Ard’s job running Yahoo’s homepage was given “to a woman” recently hired by Megan Lieberman, the editor-in-chief of Yahoo News. Although Ard received a satisfactory performance review in 2014, he was fired in January 2015 because “his performance was not satisfactory”. The lawsuit claims:
Liberman stated that she was terminating (Ard) because she had not received a requested breakdown of (his) duties. (Ard) had already provided that very information as requested, however, and reminded Liberman that he had done so. Liberman’s excuse for terminating (Ard) was a pretext.
Ard further argues that Liberman “once ‘unilaterally lowered’ the scores of three men whose performance Ard had evaluated, while she maintained the scores of two women,” according to Mercury News.
The lawsuit also alleges that Kathy Savitt, Yahoo’s former chief marketing officer, hired or promoted “16 senior-level editorial employees … in approximately an 18-month period, 14 of them, or 87 per cent, were female”.
This is the second time Yahoo has gotten sued for allegedly stacking the deck against men. In the first lawsuit — also filed in San Jose federal court in February of this year — Gregory Anderson, who ran Yahoo’s cars, small business, shopping and home sections, alleges that “female employees were more often allowed to leave voluntarily and were given time to find new employment, while males were more often fired”. Anderson was fired in late 2014 while he was in the midst of a fellowship, “working on a documentary for Yahoo Autos about the toxic effects of leaded gasoline on children”.
Despite the two suits, the company’s own diversity report shows that women in leadership positions at Yahoo increased from 23 per cent in 2014 to 24 per cent in 2015. In other words, even if Yahoo was intentionally discriminating against men based on gender, the company wasn’t doing a very good job at it.
Yahoo was recently acquired by Verizon, which is now reportedly requesting a $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) discount on price due to a teensy bit of hacking. Mayer’s future at the company remains unclear, but she stands to walk out with a sweet $US55 million ($72.5 million) if Verizon cuts her loose.
We’ve reached out to Yahoo for comment and it emailed Gizmodo the following statement:
While we can’t comment on pending litigation, I can share that fairness is a guiding principle of our annual review and reward process. Our performance review process was developed to allow employees at all levels of the company to receive meaningful, regular, and actionable feedback from others. We believe this process allows our team to develop and do their best work. Our performance review process also allows for high performers to engage in increasingly larger opportunities at our company, as well as for low performers to be transitioned out.