SAN FRANCISCO — A former Google engineer is suing the Internet giant, claiming he was fired for pushing back against racism and sexism in the company’s internal employee forums.
In the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, Tim Chevalier, a site reliability engineer, says he was let go in November 2017 for defending women, people of color and LGBTQ employees from attacks and for championing transgender and disabled rights on Google’s message boards.
“Chevalier pushed back on the online bullying he and others were experiencing, using the same internal messaging systems to try to educate his employer and coworkers on how to change Google’s working conditions to be inclusive and supportive of underrepresented minorities, such as himself,” according to the lawsuit.
Chevalier, who identifies as disabled, queer and transgender, alleges Google fired him rather than address the harassment and discrimination he was protesting.
“Human Resources explicitly told Chevalier that Google was ending his employment because of his political statements in opposition to the discrimination, harassment, and white supremacy he saw being expressed on Google’s internal messaging systems,” the lawsuit alleges.
Google says its policies prohibit harmful stereotypes based on race or gender.
“An important part of our culture is lively debate. But like any workplace, that doesn’t mean anything goes,” said spokeswoman Gina Scagliano. “All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies.”
“The overwhelming majority of our employees communicate in a way that is consistent with our policies. But when an employee does not, it is something we must take seriously. We always make our decision without any regard to the employee’s political views,” she said.
According to the lawsuit, Google employees openly questioned the engineering and leadership chops of women and underrepresented minorities and called their coworkers “immoral” because of their sexual orientation.
In May 2016, one Google employee posted the question: “If we have fewer Black and Latin@ people here, doesn’t that mean they’re not as good?” Other Google employees suggested that Google would have to lower the qualifications to work at the company to hire underrepresented minorities.
Chevalier frequently responded, at one point saying: “In a culture where it’s common to respond to diversity initiatives with ‘we can’t lower the bar,’ implying a baseline assumption that women, non-binary people, and men of color are incompetent, it’s equally important that we don’t do the reverse: that we don’t insist on white male competence even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.”
Google human resources opened an investigation into his conduct, citing emails, memes and Google-Plus posts, including one in which he criticized Republicans for “affiliating [themselves] with people carrying torches and yelling, ‘you will not
replace us’” at the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Google HR also criticized an email in which he linked to a blog post claiming society teaches “white boys” to expect privilege, saying it could be perceived as a generalization of race and gender.
The debate over diversity at Google was thrust into public view last summer with the leaking of former Google engineer James Damore’s memo arguing that Google’s efforts to boost diversity were misguided, in part, because of the biological differences between men and women.
Google fired him over his comments about women. In January, he filed a lawsuit charging the company discriminates against white, conservative men, and a second former Google engineer joined him in the suit. They claimed other Google employees had disparaged them for their beliefs.
The fallout from Damore’s memo revealed a culture war raging inside the company. Google has encouraged employees to bring their “whole self” to their work. But increasingly that policy has lead to fractured debate.
Last month, some Google employees told USA TODAY their company is not doing enough to protect them from a harassment campaign that has subjected them to hateful comments and violent threats.
These employees, many of whom volunteer in Google programs to increase the portion of women and underpresented minorities on staff, say they’ve been targeted by some of their own coworkers for fighting to bring greater diversity to Google’s staff of mostly white and Asian men.
Their personal information and comments expressed in internal company forums have been leaked to the public and published on far-right websites, leading to mistreatment by online vigilantes. What’s more, they say they’ve been subjected to doxing on 4Chan and Kiwi Farms after screenshots were included in the 161-page lawsuit Damore filed in January.
Source by usatoday..Share: