Yahoo Faces California Discrimination Lawsuit


San Jose, CA: Yahoo faces a California discrimination lawsuit filed by a man who alleges his firing violates California employment laws. The lawsuit, which was filed February 1, 2016, alleges the plaintiff was fired because he is male. It also alleges violations of the WARN Act and seeks various damages and back pay.

According to court documents, Gregory Anderson became a Yahoo employee working as the Managing Editor, Autos, in November 2010, which included accepting an Offer Letter and signing an Employee Confidentiality and Assignment of Inventions Agreement. On June 11, 2012, Anderson was promoted to Editorial Director of Yahoo’s Autos, Homes, Shopping, Small Business, and Travel sections. He was also offered a retention package reserved for people considered “key employees,” which Anderson took as a sign he would not be terminated without cause.

In May 2014, Anderson was chosen to attend a journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan as a representative of Yahoo. The leave for the fellowship required signatures of Anderson’s bosses, who signed off on the leave and gave Anderson consent to attend the fellowship if Anderson agreed in writing to continue his employment with Yahoo at the end of his fellowship.

Then, on November 10, 2014, while Anderson was still on leave for the fellowship, he was fired from his position. The lawsuit alleges Anderson was told by his boss that his firing was the result of data from Yahoo’s Quarterly Performance Review (QPR) procedure, which reportedly put him in the lowest five percent of Yahoo employees. At the same time Anderson was terminated, around 600 other employees were also fired based on their numbers from the QPR procedure.

“[Anderson] requested documentation of these numbers and copies of his peer reviews to rule out some mistake, but was denied any information concerning the metrics upon which his termination was supposedly based,” the lawsuit alleges.

The QPR, according to the lawsuit, involves managers rating their employees on a scale of 0.0 to 5.0. But as a second step, higher-level management was able to modify employee scores, even though they may not have had contact with the employees whose scores they were reviewing and without being required to report why they were making changes.

The lawsuit alleges that “The employees were never told their actual numeric ranking or how it had been determined, but were only informed of their Bucket ranking or that they were being terminated because of that ranking. The QPR Process therefore permitted and encouraged discrimination based on gender and any other personal bias held by management."

Additionally, Anderson alleges Yahoo’s policy was that employees who were on approved leave were not subject to the QPR process while on their leave.

Based on comments made by higher-ups at Yahoo, Anderson argues his termination was the result of intentional discrimination.

Yahoo issued a statement to Business Insider (2/1/16) about the lawsuit noting that its review process was developed “to allow employees at all levels of the company to receive meaningful, regular, and actionable feedback from others.”

The lawsuit is Anderson v. Yahoo! Inc., case number 5:16-cv-00527, in US District Court, Northern District of California San Jose Division.

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