1 Plaintiff Tina Huang, individually and behalf of all others similarly situated (“Plaintiff” 2 or “Ms. Huang”), complains against Defendants Twitter, Inc., and Does 1-10 (“Twitter”), upon 3 knowledge as to herself and her own acts, and upon information and belief as to all other matters, 4 alleges as follows: 5 6 INTRODUCTION 1. Twitter’s mission, according to its website, is to “give everyone the power to 7 create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” Yet, the company concedes 8 “we are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in 9 diversity — and we are no exception.” Ms. Huang found herself at the intersection of these 10 corporate statements when she tried to advance in the company after a successful tenure as a 11 software engineer. What she encountered, consistent with Twitter’s diversity concerns, was a 12 subjective, secretive promotion process that encouraged arbitrary and stereotyped decision 13 making, and inept an management that was unable to address —or even recognize— the problem 14 when she presented it to them. In the company’s words, when it came to workplace equality for 15 Ms. Huang and her female colleagues, Twitter “had a lot of work to do.” 16 2. This class action is brought by Ms. Huang, a former Twitter employee, on behalf 17 of herself and all similarly situated current and former female Twitter employees who have been 18 subjected to Twitter’s continuing policies and practices of sex discrimination. Ms. Huang, on 19 behalf of herself and the class she represents, charges that Twitter discriminates against its 20 female employees by failing to promote equally qualified or better qualified women to 21 engineering leadership positions. The company’s promotion system creates a glass ceiling for 22 women that cannot be explained or justified by any reasonable business purpose, because Twitter 23 has no meaningful promotion process for these jobs: no published promotion criteria, nor any 24 internal hiring, advancement, or application processes for employees. This action seeks to end 25 Twitter’s discriminatory practices and to provide monetary relief including punitive damages to 26 Ms. Huang and those similarly situated for the damage resulting from Twitter’s practices. 27 /// 28 /// -1Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 JURISDICTION AND VENUE 2 3. Ms. Huang is a resident of San Francisco, California. 3 4. Twitter is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware, licensed to do 4 business in California, with its principle place of business at 1355 Market Street, Suite 900, San 5 Francisco CA, 94103. Twitter does business in the State of California and the City and County of 6 San Francisco, and owns and operates its business in this judicial district. 7 5. Plaintiff’s claims arise under the California Fair Employment & Housing Act, 8 Government Code § 12940 et seq. (“FEHA”). Jurisdiction is proper in this Court because Ms. 9 Huang’s claims arose in California and because she was denied a promotion in California and the 10 11 positions denied to the Class were located in California. 6. Venue is proper in this Court under FEHA because Defendant resides in the City 12 and County of San Francisco, and Ms. Huang’s claims arose in the City and County of San 13 Francisco. In addition, some of the positions that the Class were denied were in the City and 14 County of San Francisco. Many of the acts alleged in this Complaint occurred in the City and 15 County of San Francisco and gave rise to the claims alleged. 16 17 18 19 20 21 THE PARTIES 7. Ms. Huang was employed by Twitter from October 2009 to June 2014 in varying software engineering roles. 8. Twitter is a social media company. Ms. Huang worked for Twitter at its San Francisco headquarters. 9. The true names and capacities of the Defendants named herein as Does 1 through 22 10, inclusive, whether individual, corporate, associate or otherwise, are unknown to Plaintiff who 23 therefore sues such Defendants by fictitious names pursuant to California Code of Civil 24 Procedure § 474. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the Doe Defendants are residents of the 25 State of California. Plaintiff will amend this complaint to reflect such Defendants’ true names 26 and capacities when they have been determined. 27 /// 28 /// -2Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 10. Plaintiff is informed and believes that each of the Defendants was at all relevant 2 times the agent, employee or representative of the remaining Defendants and was acting at 3 Twitter’s direction in part within the course and scope of such relationship. 4 11. Plaintiff is informed and believes that unless otherwise indicated, each Defendant 5 was the agent and/or employee of every other Defendant within the course and scope of said 6 agency and/or employment, with the knowledge and/or consent of said co-defendants. 7 8 9 EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES 12. Plaintiff timely filed a charge of discrimination against the Defendant with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) on January 27, 2015. Plaintiff 10 received a right to sue letter on January 27, 2015 and is thus entitled to sue Defendant in the 11 California Superior Court pursuant to California Government Code §12965(b). Plaintiff satisfied 12 all private, administrative, and judicial prerequisites to the institution of this action and properly 13 filed this complaint within one year of the date of receipt of the DFEH right to sue letter. 14 15 13. discrimination and retaliation are not a risk or condition of employment. 16 17 The California Workers’ Compensation Act does not preempt this action because CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS 14. Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of herself and as a member of and 18 representative for the following Class: All current and former female employees of Twitter 19 denied promotions in the three years prior to the filing of this complaint to Software 20 Engineer II, Senior Software Engineer, Staff Software Engineer, Senior Staff Software 21 Engineer, or similarly titled positions in California. 22 15. Numerosity. The members of the class are sufficiently numerous that joinder of 23 all members is impracticable. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the class exceeds 50 former 24 and current female employees of Twitter. 25 16. Common questions predominate. There are questions of law and fact common 26 to the Class and these questions predominate over individual questions. Such questions include, 27 among others: (1) whether Twitter’s policies and practices have a disparate impact on female 28 employees with respect to promotion; (2) whether any disparate impact is justified by business -3Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 necessity; (3) whether the disparate impact constitutes a violation of Government Code § 12940 2 et seq.; (4) whether Twitter engaged in a pattern and practice of disparate treatment adverse to 3 female employees; (5) whether that disparate treatment violates Government Code § 12940 et 4 seq.; and (6) whether injunctive relief and other equitable remedies (including back pay and front 5 pay) and compensatory and punitive damages are warranted for the Class. 6 17. Typicality. Plaintiff’s claims are typical of the claims of the entirety of the class 7 she seeks to represent in that her job titles, duties and activities are the same as those of the other 8 Class Members, she was subjected to the same promotion and other policies and practices as the 9 rest of the Class, and was otherwise denied the benefits and protections of the laws and 10 11 regulations at issue in this case in the same manner as the other Class Members. 18. Adequacy. Plaintiff is able to fairly and adequately protect the interests of the rest 12 of the Class, because her interests are aligned with those of the rest of the Class in that her claims 13 are those of a typical Class Member, the Class as a whole shares many common questions of law 14 and fact, and there is no evidence of any antagonism between her and the rest of the Class. 15 Plaintiff will fairly and adequately represent and protect the interests of the classes in that her 16 counsel is competent and experienced in the prosecution of class litigation and employment law. 17 19. Ascertainability. Plaintiff is informed and believes and therefore alleges Twitter 18 has computerized payroll and personnel data that will make identification of and calculation of 19 back pay, front pay, and denied benefits for specific members of the Class relatively simple. 20 20. Class certification is appropriate pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 21 382 because Twitter acted and/or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the Class, 22 making appropriate declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to Plaintiff and the Class as a 23 whole. The members of the Class are entitled to injunctive relief to end Twitter’s common, 24 uniform, and unfair discriminatory personnel policies and practices. 25 21. Class certification is also appropriate pursuant to California Code of Civil 26 Procedure § 382 because common questions of fact and law predominate over any questions 27 affecting only individual members of the Class, because a class action is superior to other 28 available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of this litigation. The members of the -4Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 Class have been damaged and are entitled to recovery as a result of Twitter’s common, uniform, 2 and unfair discriminatory personnel policies and practices. 3 FACTUAL BACKGROUND 4 Twitter’s Operations and Discriminatory Policies 5 22. Twitter was incorporated on April 19, 2007. Today, it employs approximately 6 3,600 employees, about half of whom are engineers. Twitter uses standardized policies and 7 procedures related to staffing, promotions, and career development. Within the software 8 engineering job family, Twitter created a “technical ladder” which identifies a hierarchy of 9 technical positions. The technical ladder identifies eight distinct job titles beginning with the 10 11 entry-level “Software Engineer I” and concluding with “Engineering Fellow.” 23. Although the company posts engineering job descriptions on its website, they are 12 not linked to the technical ladder, and current employees cannot apply for those positions. The 13 jobs advertised online do not necessarily correspond to open positions in the company, and are 14 simply a way to attract engineering talent by generally describing the types of positions the 15 company has. In fact, Twitter does not have a formal job posting or job application procedure for 16 current employees. 17 24. Instead, while employees can put themselves up for promotion by checking a box 18 on their regular performance reviews, promotions in the software engineering job family, 19 particularly for senior and leadership positions, are essentially initiated by an employee’s 20 manager. The manager, at his own discretion, may make a proposal (a “promotion case”) 21 requesting that the employee be promoted. This proposal begins a process whereby the employee 22 is reviewed by his or her colleagues and superiors. The proposal and the evaluations are then 23 reviewed by a promotion committee that ultimately makes a determination on the proposal. Once 24 the process is commenced, there is virtually no input by the employee, no interview, and in fact, 25 employees up for promotion do not even know who sits on the promotion committee. 26 Furthermore, once a decision is made by the committee, no feedback or formal evaluation is 27 provided to the employee, and no formal explanation is given as to the committee’s decision. 28 -5Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 25. Promotion opportunities at Twitter are by managerial fiat; employees are tapped 2 on the shoulder for advancement. There are no internal written procedures for selecting 3 promotion candidates. There is also no guidance or process articulated to employees to navigate 4 the promotion case. Furthermore, there are no promulgated standards on what information the 5 employee’s manager can or should include in the promotion case “packet,” which is the only 6 documentation the review committee sees about the candidate. As a result, an employee’s 7 manager has complete discretion over what is included in or excluded from the committee’s 8 review of the employee’s candidacy. Indeed, if the manager does not agree to the promotion 9 case, the process effectively ends there. 10 26. And, when an employee is granted a promotion case, the committee’s procedure 11 is essentially a “black box.” There is no interview, no discussion between management and the 12 employee, no opportunity to learn what elements of the employee’s history are being reviewed, 13 or what criteria the committee uses to make decisions. For a promotion to be granted, at least 14 three committee members of a more senior position than the one the candidate seeks must agree 15 to the promotion, and input from any committee member at the same rung of the technical ladder 16 counts for little. Consequently, promotion into Twitter’s senior technical positions is based on 17 subjective judgments, by committees that are comprised of and dependent on upper management 18 at Twitter, and predominantly male. These judgments are tainted with conscious or unconscious 19 prejudices and gender-based stereotypes, which explains why so few women employees at 20 Twitter advance to senior and leadership positions, including Senior Staff Engineer. 21 22 23 27. opportunities to qualified women. Such policies and practices include, without limitation: a. 24 25 28 Reliance upon subjective, gender-based and/or arbitrary criteria utilized by a nearly all male managerial workforce in making promotion decisions; b. 26 27 Twitter’s policies and practices have thus had the effect of denying equal job Failure to follow a uniform job posting procedure to guarantee that all employees have notice of openings; c. Effectively discouraging women from seeking or applying for senior level and leadership positions; -6Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 d. 2 3 are considered; e. 4 5 Failing and refusing to promote women on the same basis as men are promoted and compensated; f. 6 7 Failing and refusing to consider women for promotion on the same basis as men Failing to provide women with accurate and timely notice of promotional opportunities; g. Providing women employees interested in promotion shifting, inconsistent and 8 inaccurate statements about the requirements and qualifications necessary for 9 promotion; 10 h. Establishing and maintaining arbitrary and subjective requirements for 11 promotions which have the effect of excluding qualified women and which have 12 not been shown to have any significant relationship to job performance or to be 13 necessary to the safe and efficient conduct of Twitter’s business; 14 i. 15 Failing and refusing to take adequate steps to eliminate the effects of its past discriminatory practices; and, 16 j. Retaliating against women employees who complain of unequal treatment. 17 28. Ms. Huang is informed and believes that because of its discriminatory policies, 18 Twitter promotes women to upper rungs of the technical ladder in fewer numbers and at a 19 significantly slower rate than would be expected based on the number of women in the pool of 20 lower positions from which promotions to those rungs are made. This in turn has the effect of 21 diminishing the pool of eligible women for promotion to senior level positions—positions that 22 ultimately make decisions on promoting subordinates. Plaintiff is further informed and believes 23 that it takes women far longer to get promoted up the technical ladder than it does for men 24 because the promotion case packet and committee review system favors male employees. 25 29. As a result of Twitter’s discriminatory policies and practices, it lags behind its 26 competitors in the representation of women in senior level, leadership, and, management 27 positions. There is a particularly substantial under-representation of women in high level and 28 midlevel engineering positions. About 30% of Twitter’s overall global workers are women. In -7Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 technical jobs, that number drops to 10%. This is over a third less than the already dismal 2 average percentage of women in technical positions in the broader Silicon Valley tech industry. 3 The lack of gender diversity is equally apparent at the top. About 79% of Twitter’s leadership 4 team is male, which is again worse than the tech industry’s average rates. It was not until 5 December, 2013 (and public criticism around the time of its initial public offering) that Twitter 6 named a woman to its board of directors; she remains the only female director. 7 30. A closer look at the software engineering division at the company’s headquarters 8 shows an even starker contrast: every member of the top level principal and senior staff engineer 9 positions during Ms. Huang’s tenure (about 22 total positions) was a man. In Ms. Huang’s staff 10 software engineer position, only about seven of 164 employees, or about 4%, are women. Given 11 these numbers, a more accurate reading of the statistics shows only 3-4% female engineers in the 12 mid-to-high level engineering positions, and none at all in the top two tiers. In sum, Twitter’s 13 demographics reflect the fact that its promotion processes disproportionately discriminate against 14 the promotion of women employees, particularly senior engineers. 15 31. Twitter recognizes its company-wide, pervasive problem of discrimination. It has 16 conducted internal diversity studies, focusing on barriers to women’s advancement. It also treats 17 its promotion process (and the gender disparities therein) as a common, companywide problem 18 requiring a companywide solution. For example, Twitter recently began providing bias 19 mitigation training throughout the company. Finally, Twitter’s senior management knows of the 20 gender disparity in the Senior Staff Software Engineer promotion processes (and engineering 21 department more broadly) and treats this disparity as a company-wide issue, by “partnering with 22 many organizations” to “continue improving” its “diversity standing” and “move the needle.” 23 32. Plaintiff and the Class have no plain, adequate, or complete remedy at law to 24 redress the wrongs alleged herein, and the injunctive relief sought in this action is the only means 25 of securing complete and adequate relief. Plaintiff and the Class are now suffering and will 26 continue to suffer irreparable injury from Defendant’s discriminatory acts and commissions. 27 28 33. The actions on the part of Defendant have caused and will continue to cause Plaintiff and the Class substantial losses in earnings, promotional opportunities, and other -8Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 employment benefits, and have caused Plaintiff and the Class to suffer and continue to suffer 2 humiliation, embarrassment, and anguish, all to their damage in an amount according to proof. Ms. Huang’s Allegations 3 4 34. Ms. Huang was hired by Twitter on or about October 3, 2009 as a “Software 5 Engineer, Mobile.” At that time, Twitter had fewer than 100 employees. Since then, Twitter has 6 grown dramatically, in no small part due to the efforts of Twitter’s early hires. Indeed, many of 7 the early hires now hold senior positions in the company, and without exception, all of those 8 senior positions within the Software Engineer job family are held by men. 9 35. During her employment, Ms. Huang rose through several positions on the 10 hierarchy and was eventually promoted to Staff Engineer in 2011. In that position, Ms. Huang 11 was extremely successful. Ms. Huang’s success is evidenced by her periodic reviews which 12 almost without exception exceeded expectations. 13 36. Ms. Huang understood her professional progress at Twitter depended on 14 developing the skills and abilities articulated in Twitter’s technical job ladder. She worked 15 diligently to develop and demonstrate her mastery of the skills required for the next position in 16 the software engineering job family: Senior Staff Engineer. She was successful in doing so, and 17 as a result Ms. Huang’s manager, James Waldrop (“Mr. Waldrup”), initiated a promotion case 18 for her for the Senior Staff Engineer position in winter 2013. 19 37. The Senior Staff Engineer position was a critical promotion for Ms. Huang. 20 Engineers in this job work on overarching engineering reviews. The position is the primary rung 21 on the technical ladder where job emphasis shifts from coding and discrete projects to a 22 leadership role in the department’s broader projects and collaboration with other departments on 23 company-wide goals. It is also the “brass ring” for access to meetings where the direction of the 24 company on the technical side is discussed by high level management. 25 38. Ms. Huang was evaluated by numerous colleagues and managers in preparation 26 for the promotion committee’s decision. The evaluations included reviews by her peers and 27 senior engineering personnel. Her promotion case evaluations were uniformly excellent. 28 Furthermore, none of her evaluators expressed any concern regarding her abilities. Indeed, the -9Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 winter 2013 employee evaluations that were allegedly the basis for her promotion case review 2 were uniformly superlative, featuring comments like: 3 “She has been outstanding - truly better than anyone else on the team. 4 Even among higher expectations of DevProd, Tina is exceptional 5 She’s a pragmatic result oriented engineer with great infrastructure building skills. 6 Her efforts have made a huge difference for growth at twitter. 7 When I look at the last six months, she has had the biggest wide-reaching impact 8 9 of anyone on DevProd, bar none. 10 Her work on design and implementation of Ibis and Passbird prove her ability to build and deliver critical systems. 11 She was an excellent team leader [who] goes above and beyond. 12 A well-rounded engineer with a proven ability to get things done, and a great 13 14 complement to our engineering staff. 15 Tina has been invaluable. Without her knowledge and guidance on Ibis, I know that I would not be as far along on the project. 16 There is no doubt in my mind that she is deserving of the Senior Staff title. 17 Rating: Exceptional.” 18 39. Despite these comments, the absence of criticism or disciplinary issues, her 19 impressive work history, and her years of diligent service to Twitter, Ms. Huang was denied the 20 promotion to Senior Staff Engineer without any explanation. Shortly after her denial, Ms. Huang 21 asked to be provided with some type of feedback about the reasoning of the committee, but her 22 requests were denied. Eventually, she learned her manager, Mr. Waldrop, was able to locate one 23 individual who served on the committee. The individual could not identify any objective reasons 24 why her promotion was denied, and had to rely on rumors from certain management personnel 25 that it was related to her “aggressiveness” and “lack of high quality code” on the Ibis project. 26 40. The Ibis project was, in fact, the very project for which Ms. Huang was praised so 27 highly, and there is no record of any negative feedback or criticism relating to her work on Ibis. 28 The comment was also perplexing because Senior Staff Engineers’ job duties are based on - 10 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 technical leadership and overall planning, rather than day-to-day programming skills. Finally, 2 Ms. Huang discovered that seven other employees were granted promotion to Senior Staff 3 Engineer out of that promotion committee, all of whom were men. 4 41. Despite Ms. Huang’s efforts to determine the reasoning behind the promotion 5 committee’s decision among her peers and immediate supervisors, she was unable to do so. Ms. 6 Huang decided to share her concern that Twitter’s promotion policy was arbitrary and unjust 7 with Dick Costolo (“Mr. Costolo”), Twitter’s CEO. She drafted an email articulating her 8 concerns about Twitter’s promotion process, and discussed it with colleagues prior to sending the 9 email to Mr. Costolo on March 3, 2014. 10 42. As a result of her email, Twitter began a formal investigation of Ms. Huang’s 11 promotion. In an email on March 11, 2014, Rob Benson, Ms. Huang’s department head, said that 12 James Deslonde would lead the investigation, and that he anticipated the investigation would 13 take approximately one week. Remarkably, and without explanation, during the investigation 14 Ms. Huang was put on “personal leave.” While Ms. Huang did not understand why going on 15 leave was necessary, she nevertheless acquiesced because she understood that the investigation 16 would be completed in relatively short order. 17 43. However, the investigation was not completed in a week. In fact, on March 23, 18 Sujay Sahni, sent an email indicating that he wanted to update Ms. Huang’s co-workers, and 19 needed to explain her absence in anticipation of questions that might arise during an upcoming 20 team meeting. He indicated she was taking personal time off. In fact, Ms. Huang was not taking 21 personal time off, but was simply waiting for HR to conclude its investigation. Ms. Huang was 22 extremely troubled because as a result of her absence, she was being removed from her projects. 23 At this time, she believed that she had been functionally terminated from her position at Twitter. 24 44. The investigation continued through May. In a subsequent meeting with James 25 Deslonde, Mr. Deslonde indicated the promotion process “had problems.” However, no formal 26 result of the investigation was provided to Ms. Huang and ultimately there was no further 27 resolution to the investigation. At this time, Ms. Huang also learned that during the investigation, 28 HR had revealed Ms. Huang’s complaints to her colleagues. This lead to the perception that even - 11 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 if she did receive the promotion (which she did not), her ability to lead would be undermined 2 because her colleagues would think she did not deserve a position because she was a complainer. 3 While Ms. Huang had further meetings with HR and Mr. Costolo, at no time did Twitter 4 communicate the result of its investigation, or provide any meaningful options for moving 5 forward. Ms. Huang was in limbo: she had a job in name only. 6 45. This extended absence from the workplace had a significant detrimental effect on 7 her career at Twitter: she was removed from her projects and isolated from her fellow employees 8 while she awaited the results of an investigation that would never come. In the meantime, those 9 employees learned that she was complaining about the promotion process, and there arose a 10 belief that even had Twitter eventually given her a promotion, it would have been because of her 11 complaints, rather than her work, undermining her ability to lead her staff —the fundamental 12 requisite of the Senior Staff level job. Despite being one of Twitter’s oldest employees, Ms. 13 Huang’s career at Twitter was irreparably derailed for making a complaint. After three months 14 without explanation as to the status of the investigation, or mention of any possible time frame 15 for her return to work, she felt she had no choice but to leave the company for the sake of her 16 career. As a result, Ms. Huang emailed her resignation on May 21, 2014, effective June 4, 2014. 17 CAUSES OF ACTION 18 FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION 19 Sex Discrimination in Violation of FEHA 20 (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940 et seq.) 21 (By Plaintiff and the Class against Defendants) 22 46. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 45. 23 47. Disparate Treatment. Twitter, through its agents and employees, engaged in a 24 pattern and practice of intentional sex discrimination in violation of FEHA connected with its 25 treatment of Ms. Huang and the Class regarding their terms and conditions of employment. 26 48. Disparate Impact. Twitter has maintained a system for making decisions 27 regarding promotions into management positions which is arbitrary, subjective, lacks any 28 meaningful posting and application process and which has a disparate impact on female - 12 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 employees. Twitter’s subjective and gender-based system is not justified by business necessity 2 or, if it could be justified, less discriminatory alternatives exist. 3 49. At all relevant times, Twitter had actual and constructive knowledge of the 4 discriminatory conduct described and alleged herein, and condoned, ratified and participated in 5 the discrimination. 6 50. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that in addition to the 7 practices enumerated above, Defendant engaged in other discriminatory practices against Ms. 8 Huang and the Class, which are not yet fully known. At such time as these discriminatory 9 practices become known to Ms. Huang and the Class, she will seek leave of court to amend this 10 11 complaint in those regards. 51. Twitter’s discriminatory practices described above have resulted in a loss of past 12 and future wages and other job benefits to Plaintiff and the Class, and have caused Plaintiff and 13 the Class to suffer humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress. 14 52. In acting as herein alleged, Twitter acted intentionally, oppressively, and 15 maliciously toward Plaintiff and the Class, with conscious disregard of how its acts would affect 16 Plaintiff and the Class’ rights, or it authorized and ratified such intentional, oppressive, and 17 malicious acts of others, with the intent of depriving Plaintiff and the Class of their legal rights 18 and otherwise injuring them. Because the acts taken toward Plaintiff and the Class were carried 19 out by managerial employees acting in a deliberate, cold, callous, and intentional manner in 20 order to injure and damage them, Plaintiff therefore requests the assessment of punitive damages. 21 22 23 53. Plaintiff and the Class claim pre- and post-judgment interest on all said amounts, at the rate set by law, in an amount to be proven at the time of trial. 54. Plaintiff claims attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to Gov’t. Code §12965. 24 SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION 25 Retaliation in Violation of FEHA 26 (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940 et seq.) 27 (By Plaintiff against Defendants) 28 55. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 55. - 13 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 56. This is a claim for relief arising from retaliation against Plaintiff individually for 2 having opposed unlawful employment practices based on sex discrimination, and reporting 3 illegal activity to her employer’s management. This action is brought pursuant to FEHA. 4 57. Plaintiff was discriminated against because of her sex, as described above. 5 58. Plaintiff reported this discrimination to agents of the Defendant, including 6 individuals in a managerial and/or supervisory role, including but not limited to Twitter’s C.E.O, 7 other managers, and human resources representatives. Twitter refused to take steps to remediate 8 the discrimination Ms. Huang reported. 9 59. Plaintiff, about one week after opposing and reporting this discrimination to 10 Defendant, was subjected to an adverse employment action, specifically being placed on 11 administrative leave and having her projects reassigned to other employees, effectively ending 12 her employment. Plaintiff is informed and believes that such adverse employment action was 13 taken in retaliation for opposing said discriminatory practices. Such conduct violates 14 Government Code § 12945(h). 15 16 60. As a proximate and legal result of this retaliation, Plaintiff suffered emotional distress in an amount exceeding the minimum jurisdiction of this court according to proof. 17 61. As a further and proximate result of this retaliation, Plaintiff lost employment 18 benefits, including lost wages and fringe benefits, including but not limited to, the vesting of her 19 stock options, in an amount exceeding the minimum jurisdiction of the court according to proof. 20 21 62. As a further proximate result of said retaliation, Plaintiff was required to and did retain attorneys and is therefore entitled to an award of attorney’s fees according to proof. 22 63. The above-mentioned conduct of the Defendant constitutes oppression, fraud and 23 malice thereby entitling Plaintiff to an award of punitive damages. Plaintiff is further informed 24 and believes and thereon alleges that this knowledge, or act of oppression, fraud, or malice, or 25 act of ratification or authorization were on the part of a managing agent and/or employee acting 26 on behalf of Defendant. 27 /// 28 /// - 14 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION 2 Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy 3 (By Plaintiff against Defendants) 4 64. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 65. 5 65. Jurisdiction is invoked in this court pursuant to the public policy and common law 6 of the State of California, pursuant to the case of Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Company (1980) 7 27 Cal. 3d 167 and Rojo v. Kliger (1990) 52 Cal.3d 65. Under California law, there is a 8 fundamental and well-established public policy against retaliation for reporting illegal activities, 9 including, but not limited to, complaining about sex discrimination. This public policy is 10 embodied in the Constitution of the State of California and California statutes, including Cal. 11 Gov’t Code § 12940 et seq. Adverse employment actions taken by an employer in response to 12 opposing discrimination or reporting illegal activity is contrary to this public policy and is thus 13 actionable under the common law of California. 14 66. This is a claim for relief arising from retaliation against Plaintiff individually for 15 having opposed unlawful employment practices based upon sex discrimination and for reporting 16 illegal activity. Because of having opposed said employment practices based on sex 17 discrimination and reporting illegal activity, Plaintiff suffered adverse employment actions, 18 including being placed on administrative leave, and having her work reassigned to other 19 employees, as described above. 20 67. In short, Twitter’s decision to put Ms. Huang on so-called personal leave for 21 months during the course of an unnecessarily lengthy, and seriously flawed investigation and the 22 resulting reassignment of her work to other employees and termination of her established role 23 with the company resulted in the constructive termination of her employment. 24 68. Twitter intentionally caused objectively intolerable working conditions and 25 knowingly allowed them to exist, by denying Ms. Huang’s promotion, then in direct response to 26 her complaints about that denial, removing her from her job, putting her on leave, and 27 reassigning her work to others. Twitter’s actions taken together would cause a reasonable person 28 in Ms. Huang’s position to feel compelled to resign. - 15 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 69. As a proximate and legal result of this wrongful termination, Plaintiff suffered 2 emotional distress damages in an amount in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of this court and 3 according to proof. 4 70. As a further and proximate result of this wrongful termination, Plaintiff lost 5 employment benefits, including lost wages, vesting stock options, and fringe benefits, in an 6 amount in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of the court according to proof. 7 8 9 71. As a further proximate result of this wrongful termination, Plaintiff was required to retain attorneys and is therefore entitled to an award of attorney’s fees according to proof. 72. Defendant’s conduct constitutes oppression, fraud and malice thereby entitling 10 Plaintiff to an award of punitive damages. Plaintiff is further informed and believes and thereon 11 alleges that this knowledge, or act of oppression, fraud, or malice, or act of ratification or 12 authorization were on the part of a managing agent and/or employee acting on Twitter’s behalf. 13 PRAYER 14 Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for relief as follows: 15 1. Certification of the Class as a class action on behalf of the proposed Plaintiff class 16 and designation of Plaintiff as representative of the class and her counsel of record as Class 17 Counsel; 18 2. All damages Plaintiff and the Class have sustained as a result of Defendant’s 19 conduct, including back pay, front pay, general and special damages for lost compensation and 20 job benefits they would have received but for the discriminatory practices of Defendant. 21 3. For Ms. Huang’s individual, non-class claims, all damages she has sustained as a 22 result of Defendant’s conduct, including back pay, front pay, general and specific damages for 23 lost compensation and job benefits she would have received but for the discriminatory practices 24 of defendant, including the full vesting of her stock options and damages for emotional distress, 25 according to proof; 26 4. Exemplary and punitive damages in an amount consistent with the law; 27 5. A declaratory judgment that the practices complained of herein are unlawful and 28 violate the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code §§ 12940 et seq.; - 16 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc. 1 6. A preliminary and permanent injunction against Defendant and its partners, 2 officers, owners, agents, successors, employees, representatives, and any and all persons acting 3 in concert with them, that requires the following: 4 a. 5 desisting from engaging in each of the unlawful practices, policies, customs, and usages set forth in this complaint; 6 b. adopting non-discriminatory and objective promotion standards; 7 c. creating a transparent and non-discriminatory job posting and application process 8 9 for Senior Staff Engineer and similarly-titled positions; d. instituting an affirmative action policy to insure that women receive the share of 10 Senior Staff Engineer and similarly-titled positions they would have obtained 11 were it not for Twitter’s discriminatory practices; and 12 e. 13 14 15 16 creating a monitoring and reporting system to insure that injunctive relief is fully implemented. 7. An order assigning currently-employed Class members to those jobs they would have held but for Defendant’s discriminatory practices; 8. An adjustment of the wage rates, benefits, and seniority rights for currently- 17 employed Class members to that level which Plaintiffs and the class would be enjoying but for 18 Defendant’s discriminatory practices; 19 9. For pre-judgment and post-judgment interest as provided by law; 20 10. For costs of suit incurred herein and attorneys’ fees pursuant to Gov’t Code § 21 22 12965, Lab. Code. § 218.5, Code Civ. Proc. § 1021.5, and any other statutory or other basis; 11. For such other and further relief as the Court deems fair and just. 23 24 DATED: March 19, 2015 Respectfully submitted, LOHR RIPAMONTI LLP 25 26 27 _____________________________________ Alec Segarich Jason Lohr Attorneys for Plaintiff TINA HUANG 28 - 17 Complaint Huang v. Twitter, Inc.
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