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Ayşe Naz Erkan, Engineer, artificial intelligence expert and one of the industry’s leading women in A.I. research was unceremoniously fired the same day she returned to work after a trip abroad to care for her terminally ill mother in Turkey by her employer Robinhood, a free online brokerage firm.
According to Erkan the termination was callous and illegall and outcome of toxic culture of gender bias and retaliation because just an year back she was held as a superhero by her employer when she solved the unprecedented backlog of urgent customer support tickets.
According to the lawsuit, during her employee review she was lauded for her machine learning and natural language processing skills and she was awarded additional company stock worth approximately $500,000 and given an enlarged data team with people redeployed from another manager’s team but now, one year later, the company, Robinhood, even refused to interview Erkan for a director of engineering role when her boss was transferred. Instead, the company hired a male candidate who, Erkan alleged in the complaint, had inferior education and training relative to her and managed to land the job without going through the company’s standard vetting and interviewing process.
The alleged gender discrimination, whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination lawsuit stated that her new boss fired her in a meeting that he left after five minutes and the termination violated both the CFRA and the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
While representing Ayşe Naz Erkan as her lawyer Omid Nosrati said in a statement “Unfortunately, Ms. Erkan’s case is an example that no matter how accomplished you are, you can still face disparate treatment in your career and we hope that Ms. Erkan’s story shines a brighter light on similar workplace issues and employee rights in general.”