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Facebook named in California gender discrimination suit

The biggest, most powerful companies in California must follow the same federal and state employment laws as smaller businesses. Discrimination against protected classes of workers is prohibited. Employees who've been discriminated against or harassed may pursue civil claims for damages.

A lawsuit alleging racial and gender discrimination was filed recently by a former technology partner at Facebook. The woman, who worked at the social media giant between 2010 and 2013, is seeking compensation for what the lawsuit described as an "outrageous" termination in retaliation for complaints.

The ex-employee was hired as a program manager and moved up to partner two years later. The woman, of Chinese descent, was fired despite receiving satisfactory job reviews. The plaintiff claims members of the Facebook staff criticized her for not speaking or looking like other employees.

The lawsuit claims the former partner also was harassed openly in meetings, where she was required to serve drinks and organize parties for male colleagues -- tasks that weren't part of her job duties. The woman alleged co-workers dismissed her opinions and questioned why she wasn't at home caring for her children instead of working.

The plaintiff stated she was fired in retaliation for complaining about the behavior. An Indian man with less experience replaced the partner. Dozens of so-far unnamed Facebook employees were accused of discrimination in the complaint.

Facebook officials have denied the woman's accusations. The former employee is seeking an unstated amount of damages for severe mental anguish. The woman requested compensation for lost benefits and earnings, emotional suffering and additional damages.

Employer discrimination and harassment due to race or gender are illegal. Companies are responsible for preventing and stopping incidents of harassment by workers. Examples of gender-based discrimination include unequal pay for equivalent work and sexual harassment, among other forms of misconduct.

Employer retaliation for complaints about mistreatment in the workplace is also against the law.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Facebook sued by ex-employee claiming sex and racial discrimination" Queenie Wong, Mar. 18, 2015

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