Shareholder Lawsuit Alleges Pinterest Executives Enabled And Ignored Office Discrimination

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A shareholder accused Pinterest executives of violating their fiduciary duty by engaging in or ignoring discrimination based on race or gender. This is another lawsuit this year related to Pinterest’s workplace culture as the company’s reputation as a “nice” tech company continues to wane.

The chairman, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, speaks in front of the company logo … [+] the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company’s initial public offering on April 18, 2019 in New York City.

Photo by JOHANNES EISELE / AFP via Getty Images

Key factors

In the lawsuit, Pinterest co-founders Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, CFO Todd Morgenfeld, and the company’s board of directors are accused of “personally engaging in discrimination and retaliation against those who spoke out against and challenged the company’s white male leadership clique, relieved or knowingly ignored. ”

The lawsuit was filed by the Rhode Island Employees’ Retirement System, which Fast Company says has owned Pinterest stock since June, and focuses on discrimination claims that were made public earlier this year.

The lawsuit specifically urges CEO Silbermann to deliberately exclude former COO Françoise Brougher from critical activities and board meetings and to take action against discrimination and retaliation against two former black employees, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks.

The complaint alleges that members of the Pinterest board of directors have abandoned their fiduciary duties by “agreeing to Brougher compensation that she underpaid compared to similarly situated male colleagues,” and Morgenfield gave her biased performance reviews based on her gender.

In a statement, a Pinterest spokesperson said, “Pinterest’s leadership and board of directors take their fiduciary duties seriously,” referring to recent actions the company has taken in response to claims of discrimination, such as: For example, keeping a law firm to conduct a culture review and hiring a global leader on inclusion and diversity and adding two black board members.

Crucial quote

“I am glad that [the plaintiff’s lawyers] Cohen Milstein is pursuing this on behalf of customers, but even if it succeeds there still has to be justice for me and Aerica and the other people who have been harmed by the behavior of Pinterest managers and executives who are still on duty “Said Ozoma to Fast Company.

Key background

Pinterest has made a name for itself in Silicon Valley and the media as a “nice” tech company and like other major social media networks has avoided control. But when protests against Black Lives Matter swept the country that summer, Ozoma and Banks accused the company of racist prejudice on Twitter. Two months later, Brougher sued the company for sex discrimination and retaliation. Shortly afterwards, the employees organized a virtual strike in solidarity with the three women. The Washington Post and Business Insider have since issued reports detailing the company’s allegedly toxic environment and discriminatory practices.


It is not uncommon for shareholders to use lawsuits to hold executives accountable. Alphabet, for example, settled a series of shareholder lawsuits in September for approving a $ 90 million exit package for former CEO Andy Rubin, despite an investigation found a sexual harassment allegation against him to be credible.

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