It’s a busy month for Zillow’s legal team. The company was just served with another employment lawsuit alleging that sales employees at its Irvine, California office engaged in age discrimination against one of their co-workers.
According to the complaint, Jennifer Young, a 41-year-old employee on Zillow’s sales team, had a sales manager who would ask her if she was “too old to close” and told her to “try and keep up with us.” According to the complaint, Young was a victim of a “pervasive culture of retaliation and harassment at Zillow that placed a premium on sales and a shortfall on human decency and basic employment rights.”
Young is represented by Geragos and Geragos, the same firm that has recently filed three other lawsuits against Zillow for its employment practices at its Irvine office. Most recently, the firm sued over a sexual harassment complaint brought by another former employee.
A representative for Zillow said in an email to GeekWire that the company is taking the allegations seriously, and will investigate Young’s claims. At the same time, the company takes issue with its characterization in the suit, saying that Geragos & Geragos’s narrative in its lawsuits is “completely inconsistent with those who know and work with Zillow.”
“For Zillow, our people are our greatest asset. The behavior described does not accurately depict our culture or the 1,200 employees who work hard and treat each other with dignity and respect,” the statement said. “It’s incredibly important to us to create and maintain a work environment that is safe, comfortable and inclusive for everyone.”
In addition to the age discrimination allegations, the complaint alleges that Young was wrongfully terminated after she took time off to deal with injuries she sustained in a car accident earlier this year. According to the complaint, Young was forced to stand and make sales calls for several hours, despite requesting that she be allowed to take breaks.
Young escalated the issue to Zillow’s HR department around the same time that she was hospitalized to deal with the injuries that were exacerbated by her working conditions at Zillow. Tara Fournier, a Human Resources Business Partner at Zillow, said in email correspondence with Young that she wanted to set up accommodations for Young’s injuries when the two corresponded over email during her absence from the company.
Zillow HR Director Jennifer Zumek also reached out to Young in order to request information from her doctor about accommodating her needs. Those discussions were cut short, however, because Young had not provided a note from her doctor explaining her absence from Zillow. Fournier emailed Young on October 16, asking her to provide a doctor’s note explaining her absence, and Young replied the same day saying that the hospital had sent a fax to Zillow’s HR department explaining that she was in the hospital on October 13.
On the morning of October 24, Zumek issued an ultimatum: either Young provide a doctor’s note clearing her to be out of work from October 9 to October 24 by 9 a.m. the following Monday, October 27, or Zillow would terminate her employment. Zumek said that she had previously tried to reach Young by phone, but hadn’t been able to get through.
Young responded by email, saying that her phone was working fine and she had not received any phone calls from Zumek. (Fournier had previously tried to reach Young at a phone number that Young said was not hers.) She said that she notified her doctor and the hospital of the request, but was concerned that they wouldn’t reach Zillow over the weekend.
Zillow later sent a letter dated October 27 saying that because Young had not provided a doctor’s note, she had been fired from the company for “job abandonment.”
Young’s full complaint is embedded below.