Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Fired engineer sues Google, alleging bias against conservatives and white men

Fired engineer sues Google, alleging bias against conservatives and white men

James Damore, a former Google engineer who was sacked in August after posting a memo to an internal Google message board, arguing that women may not be equally represented in tech because they are biologically less capable of engineering, has filed a class action lawsuit against the company in Santa Clara Superior Court in Northern California.

Damore and David Gudeman, another former Google engineer, filed the lawsuit in Santa Clara Superior Court on Monday on behalf of all current and former employees who have been discriminated against for being white, male, conservative or a combination of the three.

"Damore, Gudeman and other class members were ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males", the lawsuit reads.

Damore was sacked in August 2017 after an internal memo he wrote on workplace identity politics, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber", was leaked to the press.

The suit claims white men were booed at company-wide meetings: "Not only was the numerical presence of women celebrated at Google exclusively due to their gender, but the presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with "boos" during company-wide weekly meetings".

Damore was sacked in August after his anti-diversity essay, distributed within Google, was made public.

Damore's lawsuit asserts that his former company systematically discriminates against conservative white males.

Echoing Damore's initial blog post, the suit also accuses Google of "producing an ideological echo chamber" and "a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink" where political correctness was elevated over merit.

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The suit includes as evidence of discrimination a meeting held in March ("Women's History Month") in which two women, Ruth Porat, the Chief Financial Officer of Google, and Eileen Naughton, the Human Resources Director of Google.

More broadly, the lawsuit alleges that Google - perhaps dominated by employees who voted Democratic in 2016 - has not shielded Donald Trump-supporting employees from harassment.

This follows a pattern seen elsewhere in the document, and in the immediate aftermath of the Damore memo's leak and publication, in which disagreement with diversity drives is taken to be an offense that warrants HR intervention, possible firing, and even blacklisting. Google also allegedly awarded "Peer Bonuses" to employees who disparaged Damore.

The lawsuit, seeking monetary and punitive damages, was filed by Dhillon Law Group, which is owned by Republican attorney Harmeet Dhillon.

After his firing, Damore became something of a TV-circuit celebrity, controversially likening being a white male conservative at Google to "being gay in the 1950s".

A spokesperson for Google did not immediately respond to TIME's request for comment.

Now, the company must battle both suits, with one claiming the company is doing too much to diversify its payroll, and the other claiming it isn't doing enough. The class action suit is also demanding for a jury trial.

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