Accused Yahoo executive fires back over sexual harassment allegations


The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files

Calling the allegations against her "outrageously false," the Yahoo executive accused of sexual harassment by a former engineer at the company fired back in a blistering cross complaint.

In the new suit, filed Wednesday in California, Yahoo senior director of engineering Maria Zhang is suing Nan Shi for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In the suit, Zhang claims that Shi, a former Yahoo engineer who alleged she'd been coerced into having sex with Zhang, "made the entire story up in an attempt to save her job and avoid losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unvested Yahoo stock."

The court documents say the two never had sex, never had a sexual relationship, and that Zhang did not promise favorable results or threaten negative consequences based on sexual activities. "Shi fabricated that lie with absolutely no regard for the truth or the harm Zhang would suffer as a result of her false allegations," the filing claims.

According to the suit, Shi was an under-performer who had received poor job reviews. Zhang claims in the suit that Shi complained to human resources about the management styles of her supervisors but did not initially mention sexual harassment. After an investigation failed to find evidence for her complaints, she made the more lurid allegations, the court documents state.

A lawyer representing Shi, Matthew Fisher, said in an e-mail that he could not comment on the details of the allegations due to pending litigation, but wrote "we support our client 100 percent and look forward to the truth coming out and for justice to be served."

A Yahoo spokeswoman who shared the filing said the company would not comment further on the case, but reiterated the company's strong support for Zhang: "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."

Read also:

Female executive at Yahoo sued for alleged sexual harassment

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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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