Twitter Is Latest Tech Titan Named in a Sex-Discrimination Lawsuit

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The Twitter logo hangs outside company headquarters in San Francisco.
The Twitter logo hangs outside company headquarters in San Francisco.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

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A former Twitter engineer has filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging its promotion policies are opaque and unfairly favor men.

Tina Huang, who worked at Twitter in multiple engineering roles from 2009 to 2014, filed the paperwork last week as a proposed class-action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court. Her complaint, which NBC News obtained from Huang's attorney Jason Lohr, alleges Twitter's promotion of employees into senior roles "is based on subjective judgments, by committees that are comprised of and dependent on upper management at Twitter, and predominantly male." Those decisions are based on prejudices and gender-based stereotypes, the complaint alleges, and because there are no formal processes employees are left dealing with an arbitrary system.

Huang alleges she was passed over for a senior engineer position in late 2013 and says management immediately placed her on leave when she complained to management including CEO Dick Costolo. Huang's leave lasted for weeks longer than she expected, during which time the company said it was conducting an investigation, and she alleges she felt she had essentially been fired. With no time frame to return to work and no foreseeable end to the leave, Huang alleges, she had no choice but to resign in May 2014.

Twitter denied this in a statement emailed to NBC News: "Ms. Huang resigned voluntarily from Twitter, after our leadership tried to persuade her to stay. She was not fired. Twitter is deeply committed to a diverse and supportive workplace, and we believe the facts will show Ms. Huang was treated fairly."

Huang filed her lawsuit the same week that a woman filed a similar discrimination complaint against Facebook. The former Facebook employee retained Lawless & Lawless, the same firm that is handling the high-profile discrimination case of Ellen Pao, who is suing Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

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