- A diversity-focused recruiter for Facebook is suing the company for $100 million.
- Anastasia Boone Talton alleges she experienced discrimination based on race and disability at the company, as well as harassment.
- The lawsuit, seen by Business Insider, alleges she was excluded from events and meetings after raising concerns internally.
- Boone Talton was also allegedly told she was not a “cultural fit” after asking for accommodation for her medical issues.
- Facebook disputes the allegations, saying: “We don’t tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind at Facebook and absolutely disagree with the account presented in this claim.”
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A diversity-focused recruiter for Facebook is suing the social networking giant, alleging she was the victim of discrimination based on race and disability as well as harassment.
On March 17, lawyers for Anastasia Boone Talton filed a complaint against Facebook with California’s Superior Court of San Mateo, asserting that the recruiter faced illegal behaviour while working for Facebook, court documents seen by Business Insider show.
In a video posted to Facebook, her lawyer Tiega Varlack said that Facebook “merely paid lip-service to its stated goal of diversifying its employees,” and that “when Boone Talton complained to management she was shunned” and excluded from meetings and social activities with colleagues.
While the complaint does not provide a specific amount in damages, Varlack says in the video that the lawsuit is seeking $100 million in damages.
In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Bertie Thomson said: “We don’t tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind at Facebook and absolutely disagree with the account presented in this claim. We are proud of our efforts to find, grow and keep diverse talent, and of the support we provide to our employees with disabilities.”
Boone Talton’s complaint also alleges she was also a victim of wrongful termination, but Facebook says she continues to be employeed by the company.
The lawsuit has the potential to be a fresh headache for Facebook, which has reeled from successive scandals over the past several years. Like much of the tech industry, Facebook’s workforce is not particularly diverse, and though it has made efforts to rectify this in recent years it has also been accused of discrimination by other former employees.
Boone Talton left the consulting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2018 to join Facebook as a senior talent acquisition consultant focusing on diversity and inclusion, according to her LinkedIn profile, and “immediately began experiencing discrimination,” the complaint alleges. She reported the issues to HR, the complaint continues, but “nothing changed” and she was subsequently “denied opportunities for career growth and was stifled from completing her job. When she complained management just laughed it off … [she began to] “suffer mentally and physically from the poisonous atmosphere perpetuated by her employer.”
It adds: “There were many other micro and macro aggressive behaviours and she felt that she was targeted by a concerted effort to unfairly terminate her.”
Facebook also discriminated against her on the grounds of an unspecified disability, the lawsuit alleges, by refusing to accommodate her requests to help her. “[She] notified [Facebook] on multiple occasions that she was experiencing medical complications,” it reads. “Instead of engaging … to determine how the Company could best accommodate [her], Defendant harassed [her] and told her she was not a ‘cultural fit for Facebook,’ and provided her zero support from HR and team members.”
Boone Talton also filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in late January 2020, the complaint said.
In November 2019, a group of Facebook employees wrote a memo saying they experience ongoing racism and discrimination at the company. “Facebook still has a black people problem. And a problem with individual contributors who are not white,” the document read. “On the inside, we are sad. Angry. Oppressed. Depressed. And treated every day through the micro and macro aggressions as if we do not belong here.”
It came a year after the publication of a widely read 2,500-word memo by former employee Mark Luckie, who described his own experiences of discrimination at the company. “Facebook’s disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees,” he wrote.
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