Categories: Technology

Technology media and telecommunications (“TMT”) industry employers should begin taking steps to mitigate a new litigation risk—reverse discrimination claims. This past year there were a number of news stories regarding the lack of diversity in the technology industry (see, for example, articles in Inc., The Cut, Fusion, The New York Times, and Wired). Numerous advocacy groups pressured TMT employers to focus on increasing workplace diversity in order to eliminate this disparity. As TMT employers continue to defend themselves against these allegations, the recently filed Complaint in Anderson v. Yahoo!, 5:16-cv-00527 (N.D. Cal. 2016), alleges that Yahoo!’s robust attempts to encourage gender diversity constituted unlawful sex discrimination against male employees.

The Complaint alleges that Yahoo! “intentionally hired and promoted women because of their gender, while terminating, demoting or laying off male employees because of their gender” and that male employees who received an “occasionally misses” employee score were subject to immediate termination, while similarly rated female employees were not. The Complaint also finds fault with the fact that a disproportionate number of Yahoo!’s recent hires are female.

The Complaint attempts to put TMT employers in a no-win situation. As we have previously discussed, maintaining a workforce lacking in diversity presents serious litigation risks. However, the Anderson Complaint alleges that taking steps to remedy the problem by exhibiting an explicit preference for certain classes of employees may run afoul of the same statutes.

To mitigate litigation risks associated with both discrimination and reverse-discrimination claims employers should:

  • Never take any action “because of” a protected characteristic.
  • Promote diversity through recruitment rather than terminations. In fiscal year 2015 the EEOC received more than nine times as many race and sex discrimination complaints alleging wrongful termination as complaints alleging failure to hire.
  • Before initiating a reduction in force conduct due diligence regarding each employee who will be impacted. This can provide an opportunity to negotiate release agreements with particularly high-risk employees.
  • Ensure that all similarly situated employees are subject to the same rules and practices.


Back to Workforce Bulletin Blog

Search This Blog

Blog Editors

Related Services



Jump to Page


Sign up to receive an email notification when new Workforce Bulletin posts are published:

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.