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Pinterest Ex-COO Is Prepared to Take Gender Case to Trial

(Bloomberg) — Francoise Brougher, the former Pinterest Inc. chief operating officer who sued alleging gender discrimination, said she is prepared to take her case all the way to trial, setting up Silicon Valley for another public reckoning.

“I’m very confident in the case I have right now,” Brougher said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “While I was given a seat at the table, I had no power or I was not empowered to use my talent to drive Pinterest forward.”

Her resolve echoes that of Ellen Pao, who sued the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination in 2012. Pao had opportunities to settle her case, but chose to pursue litigation instead, long before the #metoo movement led more women to speak out.

“I know how hard it will be and I know how hard it was for Ellen Pao to come forward,” Brougher said.

Watch the Video here: Former Pinterest COO Says Culture There Is ‘Toxic’

Brougher’s attorney David Lowe, a partner at the same firm that represented Pao, said “Ellen and Francoise are both aware of the risks in litigation and but that it’s still important that we use the tools we have to hold companies accountable.”

Brougher also alleges she was fired for speaking out about discrimination, wasn’t paid as much as her male peers, had a less favorable vesting schedule for her shares, and was left out of Pinterest’s IPO process despite her role as the number two executive. She paints a portrait of CEO Ben Silbermann as a leader who relied on the same group of men to make decisions and did not listen to different voices.

“I felt that I was marginalized at the company by men that didn’t value my perspective,” she said.

In a statement, a Pinterest spokesperson said: “We’re reviewing the complaint filed. Our employees are incredibly important to us and we take all concerns brought to our attention seriously.”

Read more: Pinterest Adds Board Member as Employees Claim Discrimination

Brougher formerly ran business development at Square Inc. and was one of several women who reported to CEO Jack Dorsey at the time. Unlike her description of Silbermann, Brougher said Dorsey “is an incredible proponent of women in the C-Suite.”

Discrimination against women in the C-suite are may not show up in the same way it does in the lower ranks of corporations. “It’s not like, ‘Hey, grab me coffee.’” Brougher said. “It’s much more insidious at the executive level. At the senior level, it’s happening behind your back and it’s undermining you every step of the way you try to lead.”

In June, two Black women who used to work at Pinterest, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, also spoke out about discrimination at the company, claiming they were paid unfairly and faced retaliation. Bloomberg has spoken to several Pinterest employees who say they brought similar concerns to the human resources department but were ignored or faced career consequences for speaking up.

Ozoma and Banks “were the first ones to come forward and they gave me the courage to tell my story,” Brougher said. “I totally support them.”

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