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Is the tech industry facing a deluge of discrimination lawsuits?

Northern California's tech industry has been under a microscope recently but not for the reasons you might expect. Indeed, much of the nation has been mesmerized by the high-profile lawsuit filed against a prominent Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm by a former partner alleging that she was victimized by gender discrimination.

Many have come to view the lawsuit as something of an indictment of the tech industry as a whole, which statistics have shown has a pronounced lack of ethnic and gender diversity in its workforce, particularly among the ranks of upper management. 

In recent developments, the tech industry was rocked by the news earlier this week that yet another major Silicon Valley player, Facebook, was hit with a lawsuit making serious allegations of both racial and gender discrimination.

Who filed the lawsuit?

The lawsuit was filed by a woman of Taiwanese descent who was employed by the social media giant first as a program manager and then as a technology partner from 2010 to 2013.  

What exactly does the lawsuit allege?

The woman claims that during her tenure at Facebook she was subjected to discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Specifically, she alleges that her supervisor rebuked her for volunteering at her child's school despite it being permitted by company policy, and that she was subjected to a pattern of otherwise belittling behavior that included being ordered to coordinate parties and even serve drinks to male co-workers.

Does the lawsuit claim she was wrongfully terminated?

According to the lawsuit, the woman eventually filed a complaint against her supervisor and this action was met with retaliation in the form of a negative review and then termination.

It also claims that her replacement was a man with significantly less experience, and that prior to the retaliatory measures taken by Facebook she had always had strong reviews.

It will be fascinating to see what transpires in both of these lawsuits and whether they will serve as an inspiration for more victims to come forward. It will also be fascinating to see whether they spur real changes in the tech industry concerning both gender and racial equality.

Sources: The New York Times, "Former employee sues Facebook for sex and race discrimination," Vindu Goel, March 18, 2015; CNN Money, "Facebook gets sued for gender discrimination," March 18, 2015 

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