Yahoo has an official response to reporter Nicholas Carlson's biography of its chief executive officer, Marissa Mayer: A lawsuit against a former employee it alleges was one of his sources.
Yahoo filed a lawsuit against Cecile Lal, who it identified as a former chief of staff to a senior vice president at the company, in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The claim alleges breach of contract and breach of a fiduciary duty of loyalty by Lal, who it says leaks confidential information to Carlson.
The information included transcripts of talks Mayer would have with Yahoo employees, which were available on Yahoo's corporate intranet. The suit was filed on Wednesday.
"Yahoo has been confronted with information that a former rogue employee breached and abused Yahoo's trust and confidentiality and that of fellow employees and managers to further her own ends," Yahoo says in the complaint, which was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Lal could not be reached for comment, and Rebecca Neufeld, a Yahoo spokesperson, said the company couldn't comment on active litigation. Carlson declined to comment, but did post a not-so-cryptic tweet.
The suit alleges that Lal began leaking to Carlson in April 2014, before leaving the company in September 2014, through "email, lengthy phone calls with Carlson, and apparently, disclosure of confidential Yahoo documents, including by providing Carlson with her credentials to a password-protected site."
It alleges Lal began corresponding with Carlson after he published a lengthy story on Marissa Mayer for Business Insider, where he's a senior correspondent. She allegedly sent an email "analyzing Yahoo executives, discussing confidential prospective business deals, business operations, and agreement terms she obtained as a Yahoo employee," as well as compensation and review information of Yahoo employees.
"Lal was neither allowed within the lawful scope of her job, nor at any other time otherwise authorized by Yahoo," the complaint said, "to disclose the highly confidential and sensitive business information she provided to Nicholas Carlson, which he then published."
The suit didn't specify the monetary damages Yahoo was seeking due to the leak. But it could have a chilling effect on Yahoo employees who speak with Carlson, who follows the company closely, as well as other journalists.
In a February article for Business Insider discussing the book's heavy use of anonymous sources, Carlson wrote: "Many of my sources only agreed to speak with me on the condition that Mayer and Yahoo never find out they did. Many of the sources who provided me documents and agreed to be interviewed by me did so at the risk of their careers inside Yahoo, Google, and around the Internet industry."
Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.
Contact Matthew Zeitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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