Real-estate search site Zillow has been hit with a lawsuit by a former employee who claims to be a victim of ageism.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, Jennifer Young, "a forty-one year-old single mother of two" hired as a saleswoman earlier this year, claims that Zillow unlawfully terminated her because of her age and an injury sustained in a car accident this past summer. In addition, Young claims that several co-workers harassed her in Zillow's Orange County, Calif., office.
"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," the lawsuit claims. Because Young did not participate in those activities, employees would ask her if she was "too old to close," according to the suit. Another employee allegedly told Young that she couldn't "keep up with the rest of us," claiming that her age was holding her back.
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of complaints against the company from plaintiffs working with law firm Geragos & Geragos, based in Los Angeles.
Zillow, which has a database of over 110 million US homes on its site for users to learn more about and employs over 1,200 people, has been the focus of several lawsuits this year claiming everything from "sexual torture" to failing to provide overtime pay.
A company spokeswoman said that the lawsuits do not accurately reflect the Zillow work environment:
It is clear that the narrative being pushed by this law firm through their multiple lawsuits is completely inconsistent with those who know and work with Zillow.
We take any allegation about our workplace very seriously and are investigating these claims. We don't tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind.
Our people are our greatest asset. The behavior described does not accurately depict our culture or the 1,200 Zillow employees who work hard and treat each other with dignity and respect. It's incredibly important to us to create and maintain a work environment that is safe, comfortable and inclusive for everyone.
According to the suit. the final straw for Young was when she was injured with a pinched nerve in a car accident this past summer. For fear of reprisal for missing days of work, Young went back to work the next day rather than have her injuries addressed. Soon after, she was forced to participate in a "blitz" within the company, in which salespeople are not allowed to stand for up to three hours while non-stop sales calls are made. According to the suit, the injury became worse after the blitz, leading to Young's hospitalization.
Soon after, while she was being treated at the hospital, Young was allegedly fired for "job abandonment," the suit says.
Young, who was promised a "six-figure salary" before joining Zillow, according to the suit, is requesting a jury trial and damages for what she considers unlawful termination. In addition, she is seeking attorneys' fees, lawsuit costs, interest and punitive damages.