Representing former Google engineer James Damore, attorney Harmeet Dhillon and her team have rescinded his complaint before by the National Labor Relations Board that disputed his termination by the media giant. However, they are going forward with a class action lawsuit that charges Google of illegal discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and ideology. Three more plaintiffs are joining the suit. They alleged that their job applications were turned down due to diversity hiring quotas imposed by Google.
Damore has claimed that he has had difficulty finding work despite his qualifications, citing Google’s sizeable influence in the tech industry. Also, Damore claims to have seen Google employees admittedly using their powers and Google to rein in supporters of President Donald Trump.
The amended lawsuit reads: “Google has adopted a pattern and practice of disparately and adversely treating similarly situated job applicants because of the applicants’ race, sex, and political affiliations and activities.” It goes on to say, “Google and its management fetishize ‘diversity’ as measured by these protected characteristics only, and mandate that the percentage of non-Caucasian/Asian, non-male, and non-conservatives employed by Google increase rapidly over time.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys charge that “Google assigns negative value to applications” on the basis of the above traits, and that it is illegally discriminatory behavior.
Internal emails show that a “Supplemental Headcount Program” at Google was “a last-ditch strategy for getting diverse talent into Google when all other avenues have been exhausted.”
“Diverse candidates are: Black, Hispanic, veterans, PWD [presumably persons with a disability], and L4+ women,” the lawsuit claims. “Notably Caucasians, Asians, and males are left out of Google’s definition, and are thus being eliminated for consideration for certain categories of job openings at Google.”
Dozens of screenshots of documents, which circulated throughout Google, are cited in the lawsuit. Some of these allege that “Google failed to recognize its own hypocrisy.” According to the lawsuit, a Google “diversity business partner” in the human resources department drafted a policy mandating training and the distribution of materials that describes “methods that race and gender bias can creep into performance management, and methods of preventing this from happening.”
On his eponymous website, James Damore summarized a memo that he circulated within Google at an employees’ forum that exists for the purpose of sharing thoughts. His memo was critical of its diversity program even while he offered solutions.
- “Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
- “This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
- “The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
- “Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
- “Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
- “Differences in distributions of traits between men and women (and not “socially constructed oppression”) may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.
- “Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.”
Damore was ultimately fired after being the subject of severe criticism by his colleagues at Google. Google CEO Sundar Pichai subsequently claimed, nevertheless, that “people must be free to express dissent.” Google is now facing several lawsuits.
Damore made unsolicited suggestions to Google that included ceasing to hire staff on the basis of gender, while arguing that doing so is inherently racist. He suggested that should: “stop alienating conservatives,” “de-moralize diversity,” “de-emphasize empathy,” “confront Google’s biases” and “stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or race,” et al.
The three new plaintiffs in Damore’s lawsuit are alleging racial, gender and political discrimination. Manuel Amador, Stephen McPherson, and Michael Burns, are job applicants who were turned down by Google and now allege discrimination. Here follow a series of transcripts of the complaint:
“As amply supported by the allegations set forth in this First Amended Complaint, Google has adopted a pattern and practice of disparately and adversely treating similarly situated job applicants because of the applicants’ race, sex, and political affiliations and activities.”
“Google and its management fetishize ‘diversity’ as measured by these protected characteristics only, and mandate that the percentage of non-Caucasian/Asian, non-male, and non-conservatives employed by Google increase rapidly over time. In so doing, Google assigns negative value to applications submitted by persons perceived to be members of Google-disfavored races, male, and/or conservative, by virtue of the applicant’s protected traits, affiliations, or activities.”
“Caucasian/Asian, non-male, or non-conservative applicant will be hired over similarly situated Caucasian/Asian, male, conservative applicants for any given position,” the complaint continued. “Thus, in the alternative, Google’s hiring practices negatively and disparately impact job applicants, including Amador, McPherson, and Burns, who are, or are perceived to be, members of Google disfavored races, male, and/or conservative. Individuals from these categories are disproportionately less likely to be hired by Google as a causal result of Google’s illegal hiring practices.”
Manuel Amador joined Google as a Systems Engineer but eventually left the company after being asked to apologize for something he did not say. According to the lawsuit, Google sided with those who accused Amador of believing that people have different levels of intelligence depending on race.
“Despite being faced with such hostility, Amador continued to voice his opinions, in direct defiance of those at Google that seek to silence and expel all opposing viewpoints. The culture of intolerance, however, eventually became too much for Amador to bear. In or around June 2016, Amador was called to a meeting with Google HR as a result of someone falsely accusing Amador of believing that people have differing levels of intelligence based on that person’s race. Amador has never thought that, does not believe it to be true, and has never written or spoken as if he believed it to be true. This false complaint was filed by an anonymous complainant as means to stifle Amador’s political activities and conversations at Google, was done to harass Amador on the basis of his race and/or gender, and resulted in Amador receiving a letter from Google reprimanding Amador.
“Despite the complaint being entirely fabricated, Google sided with the harassers and asked that Amador issue an apology. At that point, Amador felt compelled to leave Google as a result of the hostile work environment created by, and left unchecked at, Google. To stay at Google brought with it an unacceptably high risk that Amador’s personal and professional reputation would be permanently tarnished by those at Google bent on suppressing and expelling those who hold viewpoints different from their own, Google-disfavored races, and/or males. By demanding that Amador apologize over a falsified complaint, Google sent a clear message that it would allow and enable such hostile, retaliatory, and oppressive conduct to occur unchecked.”
Amador then released an open letter following his departure, specifying the reasons for his departure. He wrote:
“Google employs a few individuals (from rank-and-file to upper management) who are or have become highly ideological. They have made it one of their ostensible missions to have the entire company conform to these ideologies. Most of them believe that all of us – me and many others included – should not be permitted to impugn or question the ideologies they want to impose.”
The letter stated that Google’s corporate culture is hostile to those holding certain worldviews, including conservatives and libertarians. He said that:
“many people (including me) have faced contempt, opprobrium, insults, smears, provocations, threats of industry blacklisting, and even frivolous H.R. reports that influence my career (and many others’), in retaliation for voicing my mind. The tone of this treatment was always particularly intense whenever I dared to question the set of ideologies that I found incorrect, toxic or divisive. I have been slurred as a racist, a sexist and ‘privileged,’ in direct contradiction to the content of my thoughts…I have been directly ordered by senior management to ‘stop posting immediately’ on a thread where I had managed to give other Googlers the impression that it was okay to discuss a common myth about free speech.”
As a result of this hostility, the lawsuit charges, Amador was forced to leave Google, which has refused to rehire him despite a high ranking for his abilities.
Stephen McPherson is former U.S. Navy pilot, a Republican, and once worked for U.S. Representative George R. Nethercutt Jr. (R-WA). McPherson’s alleges that his job application to Google was turned down despite 10 years in military service because of his race, gender, and political orientation. “McPherson is a white male. Both of these traits are visibly apparent from his person,” the complaint notes.
McPherson learned from at least two other Navy pilots that Google had offered each a job through Google’s veterans placement program. Meeting all of the stated qualifications for a project manager position, McPherson was also recommended by a current Google employee Manolo Strange -- a former Navy pilot. Despite several interviews with the company, McPherson was ultimately told that his application was turned down because “unanimity” about his qualifications was not reached among his interviewers. Despite the rejection, the position remained open while Google sought other applicants.
“In accordance with its unlawful and discriminatory patterns, practices, and policies, Google refused to hire McPherson on the basis of his political affiliation and activities, gender, and Google-disfavored race. Indeed, as discussed herein, the pattern and practice of refusing to hire candidates because of these protected traits or activities is pervasive throughout Google.
“McPherson’s application for employment was also rejected by Google as a direct result of Google’s hiring practices that disparately impact actual or perceived, members of Google disfavored races and/or males. Google permits all hiring personnel a wide degree of discretion in assessing and refusing to hire individuals who are not considered to be a “cultural fit” within Google, while simultaneously demanding a more diversified workforce and that all employees are, or become, complicit in Google’s discriminatory hostility toward white, conservative men, and toward all those who disagree with Google’s approach to achieving diversity in the workforce.”
According to the complaint, Michael Burns is “an accomplished copywriter, marketer, consultant, and entrepreneur,” as well as a “conservative, white male.” Google denied his application. The lawsuit claims that his race, gender, and political leanings had something to do with the denial. Burns had routinely published or shared material on social media of a conservative or libertarian nature.
“For example, Burns follows conservative and libertarian groups and individuals, such as the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, Heartland Institute, Independent Women’s Forum, and the Heritage Foundation – all of which advocate political positions that fall outside the narrow political ideologies tolerated by Google. Burns follows and/or shares posts made by these entities as a means of engaging in political discussion on topical issues with others on social media.”
After several interviews, and being given to understand that he would be hired, was not offered a position. He had shared an article on Twitter that James Damore’s right to free speech.
“In accordance with its unlawful and discriminatory patterns, practices, and policies, Google refused to hire Burns on the basis of his political affiliation and activities, gender, and race. Indeed, as discussed above, the pattern and practice of refusing to hire candidates because of these protected traits or activities is pervasive throughout Google. Unfortunately, Burns, like Amador and McPherson, fell victim to Google’s unlawful devices.
“Burns’ application for employment was also rejected by Google as a direct result of Google’s hiring practices that disparately impact actual or perceived, members of a Google-disfavored races and/or males. Google permits all hiring personnel a wide degree of discretion in assessing and refusing to hire persons that are not considered to be a 'cultural fit' within Google, while simultaneously demanding a more diversified workforce and that all employees are, or become, complicit in Google’s discriminatory hostility toward white, conservative men, and toward all those that disagree with Google’s approach to achieving diversity in the workforce."
Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who is representing Damore and the other plaintiffs, is a former vice-chairman of the California GOP and National Committeewoman.