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Former Yahoo employee asserts review process is rigged

In today's competitive business climate, companies must continually strive to recruit and retain the best and brightest. This is especially true in the tech industry which, from Amazon to Apple, has been the subject of numerous scathing news articles and employment lawsuits in recent years.

The most-recent tech company to come under fire for its employment practices is Yahoo, Inc. which was recently sued by a former employee who asserts that the company violated state and federal employment laws, relied upon a "manipulated employee-rating system” and openly favored female employees.

The former Yahoo employee bringing the lawsuit contends that he was informed of his layoff while he was on approved leave and taking part in a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan. According to the plaintiff, he was told his layoff was the result of a poor performance review in which he was among 600 employees whose scores landed them in the bottom five percent of company performers.

However, the plaintiff contends that the entire performance review process at Yahoo is essentially rigged and employees are compared against their peers and graded on a scale of zero to five. The system requires managers to assign only one grade per employee which, according to the plaintiff, often results in employees who are performing at the same level being given different score.

After the initial scoring of each employee, higher-management is then asked to weigh-in and even modify scores. The problem, according to the plaintiff, is that these individuals likely don't know an employee or have any insight into his or her work ethic or performance. The lawsuit states that his process "permitted employment decisions, including terminations, to be made on the basis of personal biases and stereotyping."

The plaintiff also notes that women within his department were treated differently than men and were more likely to be hired and promoted. Additionally, a woman who received a low performance score was allowed to appeal the matter while a man was likely to be immediately terminated.

The lawsuit also points to violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act which requires that employers provide affected workers with 60 days notice prior to mass layoffs. The plaintiff is seeking damages related to back pay, lost benefits and WARN act violations.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Yahoo ex-employee sues, alleging manipulation of performance reviews and gender bias," Samantha Masunaga and Tracey Lien, Feb. 2, 2016

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