One of the messes Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz must clean up is a three-year-old investigation into claims of discrimination by a black female lawyer. After a leak of confidential documents, it's now even messier.
The Recorder, a San Francisco legal publication, has details of the case, which is now being considered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Eulonda Skyles (left), the first black woman hired in Yahoo's 200-person legal department, says she was mommy-tracked after a maternity leave in 2005, and treated worse than white women who had also taken time off for pregnancy and childcare.
Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan told the Recorder that Skyles's charges were meritless. And yet Yahoo pushed Skyles's supervisor, Reggie Davis, out of the legal department altogether and into a dead-end job hundreds of miles away from headquarters. Callahan claimed that Davis's new job was "a great career opportunity." Another lawyer, Lynn Loeb, left the company after Skyles pointed out that she was overseeing work by an outside law firm where her husband works, a possible ethics violation. Again, Yahoo said that was unrelated.
And now we hear another top Yahoo executive may have lost her job over the Skyles case.
The Recorder article, written by Zusha Elinson, has a detailed, negative account of Skyles' on-the-job performance which comes from a document generated during confidential settlement talks between Skyles and Yahoo in 2006. (Skyles disputes Yahoo's negative claims about her, as do former colleagues who worked with her at Yahoo.)
How did Elinson get his hands on the confidential document? We're told that Callahan, the Yahoo general counsel, provided it to Jill Nash (left), Yahoo's top flack, and from there, it made its way into the reporter's hands. According to an email Skyles sent to Bartz, that leak was a violation of both the confidentiality of the settlement and labor laws restricting what an employer may say publicly about an employee's performance.
Skyles sent the email the morning of February 2 — more than two weeks before Elinson's story would be published — demanding that Bartz take action against the person who leaked the document.
That afternoon, Nash announced her departure from Yahoo. A flack always chooses words carefully; in her goodbye email, Nash did not say she had "quit" or "resigned" — only that she was leaving. She had no new job lined up, nor did she disclose any future plans.
Coincidence? Perhaps. Nash had worked under three different CEOs in the space of two years, and dealt with a hostile takeover attempt by Microsoft and a bruising proxy fight with corporate raider Carl Icahn. But, significantly, Bartz has launched a fearsome campaign against leaks inside Yahoo, going as far as to offer a $1,000 reward to any employee who snitches on a leaker. If Nash really left Yahoo because of the Recorder, we think Bartz needs to write Skyles a check.