Zillow, Sexism & The Sociopathic Business Model™: Case Study
December 8, 2014
Test your skills: How many Characteristics of The Sociopathic Business Model™ apply?
Taken directly from ValleyWag for the purpose of creating a Case Study: Startup/Tech:
A second lawsuit filed in a California court this week accuses Zillow of being an “frat house” which promotes sexual and ageist harassment. This time, a single mother is suing after being fired by Zillow because she checked into a hospital to treat injuries sustained in a car accident.
Sex discrimination & retaliation-If an employer is willing to overlook an employee’s EEOC rights they are likely to engage in far greater unethical and or illegal behavior. The trigger is inconsistent & contradictory language to action from the employer.
According to court documents obtained by Valleywag, Jennifer Young, “a forty-one year-old single mother of two,” was hired by Zillow as a sales consultant earlier this year. The $4.5 billion real estate company allegedly promised her a “leadership role” with a six-figure salary. Instead, Young was repeatedly harassed about her age by management. Emphasis added:
Ms. Young was quickly exposed to Zillow’s “frat house” and “boys club culture” where binge drinking and the willingness to participate in lewd discourse was rewarded by lucrative assignments in the form of Zillow managers routing incoming calls for potential sales leads.
As a result of Ms. Young not participating in the conduct described above, Ms. Young’s sales manager would make comments to her during the course of her work day such as “are you too old to close?” and “try to keep up with us.” It was commonplace at the Zillow office for managers to inform employees, including Ms. Young, that if you do not “drink the Zillow kool-aid” there would be no opportunity for career advancement.
This site has pointed out consistently that far more often in startups where the industry held belief is that they’re under-regulated and able to get away with more, rules are often bent as a means of manipulation for the greater good of “going public” or selling where profits come before ethics or laws.
Tech companies have long fetishized youth. Mark Zuckerberg once told an audience of Stanford students that “Young people are just smarter.” And Zuckerberg’s “truth” has infected the minds of Zillow’s Southern California offices, where managers are accused of parroting the sentiment to Young:
In the complaint, Young says she was involved in a car accident this past summer that resulted in a pinched nerve in her back, among other injuries. Fearing retaliation for missing work, she went to the office the next day instead of going to the hospital.
Despite her injuries, managers allegedly forced her to stand for two to three hours a day during “the blitz”—periods in which Zillow sales staffers are “not allowed to sit down while the [employees] makes non-stop sales calls.” Young says these “blitz” sessions exacerbated her injuries.
After months of growing pain, Young checked into a hospital to get her injuries treated. According to Young, she even notified Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff of the situation. However, she was fired by Zillow for “job abandonment” while she was allegedly still in the hospital.
In a statement sent to Valleywag, the law firm representing Young, Geragos & Geragos, slammed Zillow’s track record on employee rights:
Ms. Young’s Complaint is emblematic of the retaliatory conduct experienced by those who requested basic employment rights and the right to be treated with human decency during their employment at Zillow.
We have received dozens of credible phone calls, with documentary evidence, from former and current employees at Zillow who share these claims, and we intend to seek justice for all of the brave individuals who have come forward.
Zillow denies there are any culture problems at the 1,200 person company.
That sounds very familiar:
“It is clear that the narrative being pushed by this law firm is completely inconsistent with those who know and work with Zillow,” a company spokesperson told Valleywag in a statement.
“We take any allegation about our workplace seriously and will investigate these claims.”
This is the fourth lawsuit filed against Zillow by Geragos & Geragos’s attorneys in recent weeks.Previously, Zillow was hit with a pair of suits that accused the company of refusing to pay overtime or provide lunch breaks, and retaliating against a whistleblower who reported that employees were using forged contracts. On Monday, the company was sued for allegedly subjecting female employees to “sexual torture.”
It looks like Zillow is trending to a make it into the Gods of Frauds section of this site-not unlike most startups. No longer a trend this corrupt business model is entrenched in today’s workplace.
And tools to protect yourself as an employee: