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Maria Zhang sued: High level Yahoo exec sued for sexual harassment by female

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Maria Zhang, a high-level executive with Yahoo, was sued by a female colleague who is accusing Zhang of sexually harassing her in the workplace. The female, who once worked under Zhang at Yahoo in Sunnyvale, California, is now accusing her former boss of sexual harassment as well as wrongful termination.

Reports Reuters news service on July 11: “Maria Zhang, a senior director of engineering at Yahoo Mobile, has been sued by Nan Shi, who worked as a principal software engineer in Yahoo from February 2013, according to a complaint filed on July 8 in Santa Clara Superior Court in San Jose, California.”

The complaint against Zhang is quite explicit. Shi says her boss forced her to engage in “oral and digital sex” with her on multiple occasions, stating that Zhang coerced her into sex with threats of taking away her “job, stocks and future” if she didn’t capitulate. The complaint says Zhang promised Shi a “bright future,” only if she agreed to be at the sexual beck and call of her superior.

Yahoo issued a statement, denying all allegations. “There is absolutely no basis or truth to the allegations against Maria Zhang. Maria is an exemplary Yahoo executive and we intend to fight vigorously to clear her name,” a Yahoo spokesperson said.

Reuters picks up the story:

In the complaint, Miss Shi accuses Miss Zhang of unfairly downgrading her performance reviews for the second and third quarters of 2013. The lawsuit alleges that the company's human resources personnel refused to conduct an investigation when Miss Shi complained about her direct supervisor's advances.

Instead, according to the complaint, Miss Shi was put on unpaid leave and eventually terminated from her position in the company.

Mathew De Vega is the lawyer representing Shi. DeVega says female on female sexual harassment complaints are rare, especially among companies like Yahoo, which have a predominantly male executive body. “You'll see more sexual harassment cases in Silicon Valley because of the male dominated culture,” De Vega said, adding that large corporations with “money and power” breed an environment of “entitlement.”

“Silicon Valley companies are hyper sensitive, operating in a system of money and perception,” De Vega said. “Instead of dealing with the issue like they should have, their immediate response is to deny, deny.”

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