Two former employees of Google, James Damore and David Gudeman, have filed a class action lawsuit against the tech giant in a California Superior Court. Damore was fired by Google for a controversial memo he wrote and circulated about the company’s diversity policies. According to the court filing, “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 alleged.
“This is the essence of discrimination — Google formed opinions about and then treated Plaintiffs not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in groups with assumed characteristics.”
According to the court filing, “Google employees and managers strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink.” The lawsuit continued, “When Plaintiffs challenged Google’s illegal employment practices, they were openly threatened and subjected to harassment and retaliation from Google.”
The lawsuit alleges that Google violated the California labor code for discriminating against employees who engage in political activities. The suit also alleges that the company threatened to fire employees as "a means of coercing or influencing employees' political activities" and discrimination on the basis of gender or race.
Damore was fired in 2017 when he criticized Google’s mentoring and diversity programs, and for “alienating conservatives.” In his memo, he blamed biological differences for the relative lack of women in the tech field.
In August 2017, after he was fired, Damore told Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson that the explanation Google gave him for his termination was for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." He told Carlson, "When I asked for more details, they wouldn’t give me any." Damore’s memo was titled, "Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber: How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion." While it was originally intended for internal distribution only, it was leaked by a Google employee to a leftist website "which selectively quoted from the memo and misinterpreted it," according to the complaint. The story then went viral.
The complaint says Damore’s memo discussed "the differences in political ideologies between the leftist liberals and the rightist conservatives, and suggested that neither ideology on its own was ‘100% correct,’ but that a balance between the two would be best for society and Google. The memo then identified Google as having a liberal bias."
Ideological echo chamber
The complaint asserts that managers and employees at Google “strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink.”
“Google created an environment of protecting employees who harassed individuals who spoke out against Google’s view or the ‘Googley way,’ as it is sometimes known internally. Google employees knew they could harass Plaintiffs with impunity, given the tone set by managers – and they did so.”
The complaint also alleges that Google “employs illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their quotas – in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others.”
White males subjected to harassment
Damore and Gudeman allege in the lawsuit that only “was the numerical presence of women celebrated at Google solely due to their gender, but the presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during company-wide weekly meetings.” The document adds that “unacceptable behavior occurred at the hands of high-level managers at Google who were responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of hiring and firing decisions.”
Google has since released a statement that it will defend itself in court.
The Labor Department accused Google last year of underpaying its female employees. Google denied the charges. Google’s global workforce is 69 percent male, while in the United States, 56 percent of its employees are white.
In the lawsuit, Google manager Chris Busselle is alleged to have encouraged other Google employees to engage in discriminatory practices to improve diversity. For example, the lawsuit cites a message Busselle posted in April 2017 that suggested that employees should "leverage Google's influence to have 'cheesy white males' removed from speaker lineups at conferences."
The Google Octopus
Google is the dominant search engine on the internet for the Western world. As of 2014, Google held 67.6 percent of the U.S. search engine market. Bing remained a distant second with 18.7 percent of the search engine market. In 2015, Google was worth more than $32 billion and was rapidly expanding its lobbying presence in Washington D.C. and is the second biggest spender there at $18 million per year.
Google owns the video website, YouTube. Some video producers, including Spero News, have complained that their video material has been demonetized unfairly by YouTube/Google.
Google started during the desktop era in the 90s but has grown into the mobile era by creating their own mobile operating system, Android, that is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The company has also further developed Android for televisions, cars, and wrist watches, each with a specialized user interface. Android is also used on game consoles, digital cameras, PCs and other electronics. Since 2011, Android has been the best-selling operating system worldwide for smartphones and tablets since 2013. As of May 2017, it had over two billion monthly active users, the largest installed base of any operating system. As of 2017, the Google Play store features over 3.5 million apps.
As the internet's largest gateway to information for most countries, Google recently added a feature to fight what they call "fake news" but Spero News found it shows a bias against conservative websites instead. Searches for websites such as Breitbart, National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Federalist, and The Daily Caller, exhibit two columns in a sidebar. One reads “Writes About” and the other reads “Reviews Claimed.” While the first column points out topics covered on the website, the second column shows links to other sites that refute or debunk articles written on the site, often citing the left-wing Snopes.com website as a fact-checker.