Female executive at Yahoo sued for alleged sexual harassment


The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California in this April 16, 2013 file photo.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files

Yet another technology executive is being accused of sexual harassment.

But these allegations are a little different from the recent tales of inappropriate behavior among male founders and high-tech execs. Last week, Yahoo software engineer Nan Shi filed a lawsuit that named Maria Zhang, a female engineering executive at the company, alleging sexual harassment.

The suit claims that Zhang coerced Shi to have "oral and digital sex," warning "she could take away everything from her including her job, stocks and future if she did not do what she wanted." It alleges that Zhang later retaliated against Shi when she refused her advances, downgrading her performance reviews, removing her as the lead on projects, and promoting others to supervise her.

The suit also alleges that the company's human resources personnel "refused to conduct a proper investigation" and that Shi was wrongfully terminated. In an e-mailed statement, a Yahoo spokeswoman said, "there is absolutely no basis or truth to the allegations against Maria Zhang. Maria is an exemplary Yahoo executive, and we intend to fight vigorously to clear her name."

The suit follows a series of recent headlines about accusations of misconduct by technology executives. While other sectors are hardly immune to such charges, they come amid a time when the industry is already grappling with how to attract and retain more women to its ranks.

Last week, the CEO of mobile marketing company Urban Airship announced he was taking an "extended leave of absence" amid allegations of sexual assault. Earlier this month, a former executive of Tinder, the mobile dating app, filed a suit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.

In April, RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal was terminated following a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence. And earlier this year, after complaints by a female employee at the programming network GitHub, a co-founder resigned due to "mistakes and errors of judgment," according to a company blog post. An internal investigation "found no evidence of gender-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or abuse." 

Read also:

Sexism and tech

Yahoo follows Google's move and opens up about diversity

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.
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