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Pinterest settles gender discrimination lawsuit brought by former COO

The company will pay $22.5 million

Pinterest Takes Stock Public On New York Stock Exchange Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Pinterest is settling a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by former COO Françoise Brougher for $22.5 million. Pinterest and Brougher will also jointly contribute $2.5 million to philanthropies supporting women and underrepresented minorities in the tech industry. The remaining amount will be paid to Brougher and her attorneys. News of the agreement was first reported by The New York Times.

The settlement is one of the largest in a publicly announced, individual gender discrimination lawsuit. Brougher’s lawyer told the Times that while private agreements can be bigger, they don’t hold companies accountable in the same way.

In her complaint, which was filed in August, Brougher said she was paid less than her male colleagues, repeatedly left out of important meetings, and given gendered feedback by Pinterest CFO Todd Morgenfeld. When she spoke up about this mistreatment, she says she was fired. Morgenfeld still works at the company.

The complaint followed public statements from Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two Black women on the policy team who said they’d faced racism and sexism at the company. Both said they were underpaid despite leading major initiatives at Pinterest, including banning anti-vax posts and putting an end to the promotion of plantation weddings.

Ozoma and Banks got less than a year’s severance when they left the company.

Pinterest announced an outside lawyer was conducting an independent investigation into its culture in the wake of these allegations. Yet more stories continued to pour out. In September, The Verge published an article detailing new allegations of workplace discrimination and retaliation — particularly for women and people of color on the finance team.

In a joint statement emailed to The Verge, Brougher and Pinterest said: “Pinterest recognizes the importance of fostering a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and will continue its actions to improve its culture. Francoise welcomes the meaningful steps Pinterest has taken to improve its workplace environment and is encouraged that Pinterest is committed to building a culture that allows all employees to feel included and supported.”