A prominent technology journalist who was fired from Yahoo in 2015 is suing Yahoo's chief executive Marissa Mayer and two other top female executives for allegedly carrying out a campaign to discriminate against and purge male employees.
Scott Ard, a former editor-in-chief of CNET, joined Yahoo in September 2011 as editorial director. During his time in the company, he led the editorial programming for Yahoo.com, as all as its services Yahoo Shopping, Yahoo Autos and Yahoo Small Business.
He alleges that after three years of receiving positive performance reviews and stock options, in June 2014 he was told that his role as head of editorial programming for the Yahoo homepage was being given to a woman who had recently been hired by Megan Liberman, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News. Then in January 2015 Liberman fired him, giving the reason that "his performance was not satisfactory".
In addition, Ard claims that Mayer encouraged the use of an employee performance rating system "to accommodate management's subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo's male employees", and that she discriminated on the basis of gender together with Liberman and Kathy Savitt, Yahoo's former chief marketing officer.
80% of top managers went from male to female in 18 months
"When Savitt began at Yahoo the top managers reporting to her ... including the chief editors of the verticals and magazines, were less than 20% female. Within a year- and-a-half those top managers were more than 80% female," the lawsuit said.
"Savitt has publicly expressed support for increasing the number of women in media and has intentionally hired and promoted women because of their gender, while terminating, demoting or laying off male employees because of their gender.
"Of the approximately 16 senior-level editorial employees hired or promoted by Savitt ... in approximately an 18-month period, 14 of them, or 87%, were female."
Ard, who is now editor-in-chief of the Silicon Valley Business Journal, claims that Liberman once lowered the performance scores for three male employees that Ard had given them, while maintaining the scores for two female employees. He also says that he was fired after Liberman claimed that she had not received a requested breakdown of his duties, although he states that he did provide the information and reminded her that he had done so.
He says that after she fired him, when he requested a copy of his performance review and asked to appeal against his firing, both requests were denied. He was ordered to turn in his laptop and immediately depart the premises.
And he's not the only one
Ard shares the same lawyer as another former Yahoo Autos managing editor Gregory Anderson. His employment was terminated by the company in November 2014 while on approved annual leave partaking in the prestigious Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan.
Anderson filed a lawsuit against Yahoo alleging gender discrimination in February 2016. Ard cites this issue as evidence of Yahoo and Mayer's campaign to allegedly remove male employees from the company en masse.
Yahoo says that the lawsuit carries no merit and that the quarterly performance reviews implemented in August 2012 by Mayer have helped to improve the company's overall performance.
"With the unwavering support of our CEO, we are focused on hiring employees with broad and varied backgrounds, and perspectives. Our performance-review process was developed to allow employees at all levels of the company to receive meaningful, regular and actionable feedback from others," said Yahoo spokesperson Carolyn Clark.
"Our performance-review process also allows for high performers to engage in increasingly larger opportunities at our company, as well as for low performers to be transitioned out."