Pinterest will no longer enforce former employees’ nondisclosure agreements when it comes to cases of racial and gender-based discrimination, according to NBC News. That’s part of the terms the company has agreed to in order to settle the lawsuit filed by its shareholder, the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, for allegedly enabling a culture of discrimination. In addition, it has committed $50 million towards increasing diversity and inclusion within the company.
The shareholder sued Pinterest after allegations made by former employees Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks became public. In a series of tweets, Ozoma detailed how she fought for a year to be paid and treated fairly. She said Pinterest responded inadequately when one of her white male colleagues shared her name and phone number to racist/misogynistic parts of the internet. Her colleague reportedly doxxed her after she suggested adding a warning on content from Ben Shapiro, whom she’d described as a “white supremacist.”
Meanwhile, Banks said her manager made disparaging comments about her ethnicity (she’s Black and Japanese) in front of colleagues. Both Ozoma and Banks said they were paid less than their manager, a white man, despite having similar workloads.
The Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island argued that by allowing those events to take place, executives perpetrated or knowingly ignored “the long-standing and systemic culture of discrimination and retaliation at Pinterest.” Thus, they breached their fiduciary duty. Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said:
“We pushed for these sweeping reforms to support Pinterest’s employees with a fair and safe workplace, and to strengthen the company’s brand and performance by ensuring that the values of inclusiveness are made central to Pinterest’s identity.”
As NBC News notes, the fact that Pinterest agreed to release employees from their NDAs reflects the work Ozoma has accomplished since she left the company. She co-sponsored the Silenced No More Act that will make it easier for workers to speak out about racism and harassment in the workplace even if they had previously signed NDAs. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law in October, and it will be enforced starting on January 1st.
Ozoma and Banks aren’t the only former employees who spoke out against Pinterest. Former COO Françoise Brougher also said that she was fired after she told CEO Ben Silbermann that she was being given gendered feedback and was being paid less than her male counterparts. She sued the company last year and settled for $22.5 million.
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