Former Employee of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Files Lawsuit Claiming Black Staff Are ‘Underpaid, Undervalued, and Marginalized’

Pricilla Chan (R) and her husband Mark Zuckerberg announce the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to “cure, prevent or manage all disease” by the end of the century during a news conference at UCSF Mission Bay in San Francisco. (REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Black employees at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) are “underpaid, undervalued, denied growth opportunities, and marginalized,” according to a former employee of the philanthropy initiative owned by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Ray Holgado, who worked for CZI from September 2018 to August 2020, accused the organization of racial discrimination in a claim he filed Monday to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

CZI said the allegations were “unsubstantiated.”

The claim comes five months after 74 CZI employees signed a letter in June demanding the organization makes major changes to tackle systemic racism.

CZI discriminated against Holgado because of his race when he sought salary raises and promotions, the claim said, and other Black employees faced similar problems because of “systemic racism.”

“Despite its social justice rhetoric, CZI is not a welcoming environment for Black employees,” the claim read.

It also slammed “the hypocrisy and performative nature” of comments about the Black Lives Matter movement from the company’s leadership, “given the racial discrimination many Black employees had experienced at CZI.”

A CZI spokesperson told Business Insider: “While we take any allegation of discrimination seriously and will do so here, this former employee’s specific allegations were previously raised internally, independently investigated, and found to be unsubstantiated.”

“The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is committed to fair treatment, access, and advancement for all members of the CZI team,” the spokesperson added. “We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, full stop.”

CZI did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

In addition to the employee letter in June, 140 scientists funded by CZI slammed Zuckerberg in the same month over his inaction on controversial posts from President Donald Trump. The scientists said Trump had been able to use Facebook to spread both misinformation and incendiary statements, citing his statement that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

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SOURCE: Business Insider, Grace Dean