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Yahoo female executive sued for sexual harassment

A senior director with a key role in Yahoo's mobile efforts is named in a harassment suit by her female subordinate.


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major executive at Yahoo was named in a lawsuit Friday that accuses her of sexually harassing a female employee who reported to her.

Maria Zhang, a senior director of engineering, plays a key role in Yahoo's mobile efforts -- an important piece in Yahoo's strategy to turn around the lumbering Internet portal. Zhang heads content and developer-tool teams for several of the company's mobile properties, including Yahoo Sports and News Digest.

According to the lawsuit, Nan Shi, a principle software engineer, was forced by Zhang to have sex with her on multiple occasions. When Shi began to resist her advances, Zhang allegedly responded by removing Shi as a project lead and giving her a negative performance review.

Shi allegedly held off from reporting the abuse for fear of damaging her career. When she did come forward to Yahoo, Shi said the company did nothing, then put her on unpaid leave, and eventually terminated her. The San Jose Mercury News reported news of the lawsuit earlier.

"Zhang told Plaintiff she would have a bright future at Yahoo if she had sex with her. She also stated she could take away everything from her including her job, stocks, and future if she did not do what she wanted," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes weeks after another high profile sexual harassment suit at a tech company. Whitney Wolfe, former vice president of marketing at the dating app Tinder, accused the company's chief marketing officer, Justin Mateen, of harassment. Mateen was later suspended from the company.

Shi's lawsuit names Yahoo as a defendant and lists three causes for damages: sexual-harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination.

"There is absolutely no basis or truth to the allegations against Maria Zhang," a Yahoo spokesperson told the Mercury News. "Maria is an exemplary Yahoo executive and we intend to fight vigorously to clear her name." Yahoo did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.