James Damore, the former Google engineer who was fired for writing a controversial internal memo questioning the company’s diversity policies has sued the company for allegedly discriminating against conservative white males.
In a complaint filed Jan., 8 in the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara, Damore accused the technology giant of “systematically” singling out, punishing and terminating employees whose views on diversity, social justice and gender bias differed from the majority view at Google.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of all employees at Google who believe they have been discriminated against by the company because of their “perceived political views” due to their “male gender” and due to their being Caucasian.
“Google’s open hostility for conservative thought is paired with invidious discrimination on the basis of race and gender, barred by law,” lawyers for Damore and another former Google employee David Gudeman said in the lengthy 161-page complaint.
“Google’s management goes to extreme and illegal lengths to encourage hiring managers to take protected categories such as race and/or gender into consideration as determinative hiring factors,” to the detriment of white male employees and potential employees, the complaint alleged.
Google declined to comment on the lawsuit beyond a one-sentence emailed statement. “We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court,” the company said.
Google fired Damore last August for writing a manifesto in which he criticized the company for treating women and non-white employees deferentially just to improve their representation in the company’s workforce. At the time he had said he would sue the company for wrongful termination.
The software engineer described Google’s workplace environment as being an overly politically correct “ideological echo chamber” that favors groupthink and punishes those with different views.
In one of his more controversial observations, Damore said it was the inherent biological differences between men and women, more so than explicit discrimination that accounts for any gaps that might exist between the genders in the workplace.
Lawyers for Damore and Gudeman cited multiple examples that they claimed highlighted Google’s discriminatory practice on matters pertaining to gender and minorities. Among them were claims that Google publicly shamed business units that did not have at least a 50-50 gender split and forced people to attend diversity and inclusion summits to be taken into consideration for career advancement.
Damore’s manifesto sparked a heated debate about gender bias and discrimination in the workforce. Many at Google and elsewhere, viewed the software engineer’s comments as insulting to women and a reflection of a broader and growing intolerance towards minorities in the current politically charged climate.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai described Damore’s screed as violating the company’s code of conduct and said that any suggestions about women somehow being biologically less suited for some types of work, was offensive. He said Damore’s manifesto and the response to it had created a climate were some people were afraid for their personal safety. Some sympathized with Google’s decision to fire Damore saying the company had no other choice.
Many others however supported Damore’s stance that the memo simply represented a personal, and constitutionally protected, appraisal of the company’s diversity policies. They faulted Pichai for Goggle’s decision to let Damore go and said the whole incident substantiated the software engineer’s claim about Google not tolerating any opinion that did not coincide with left-leaning views on race and gender.