James Damore, the Google employee who was fired after writing a memo accusing the tech giant of “alienating conservatives” at its Bay Area headquarters, has filed a class-action lawsuit along with another former Google engineer for wrongful termination.
The suit, filed Monday in Santa Clara Superior Court in California with David Gudeman, charges Google discriminated against them and other employees for their political views and for being white males.
“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 alleges.
“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.”
The complaint also provides evidence that Google managers developed “blacklists” of conservative employees with whom they wouldn’t work on any project.
A Google spokesman told Fox News, via email: “We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court.”
The complaint cites violation of the California labor code for, among other things, discriminating against an employee for engaging in political activities, threatening employees with termination as “a means of coercing or influencing employees’ political activities” and discrimination on the basis of gender or race.
After Damore was fired last August, he told the Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson the explanation Google gave him for his firing was “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”
“When I asked for more details, they wouldn’t give me any,” he said.
Damore was fired after circulating among employees a memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber: How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion.”
It was intended only for internal distribution, according to the complaint, but was leaked by a Google employee to a left-leaning tech site, either Vice Motherboard or Gizmodo, “which selectively quoted from the memo and misinterpreted it.” The story then was picked up worldwide.
The complaint says the 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 states 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.”
“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 alleges 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.”
Damore and Gudeman assert that not 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 plaintiffs state the “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.”
Damore, who earned a master’s degree from Harvard, was employed by Google from 2013 to August 2017. He served as a senior software engineer, a software engineer and an intern.
See James Damore’s interview with Tucker Carlson in August 2017:
‘Commitment to diversity and inclusion’
He says the origin of his memo was a June 2017 “Diversity and Inclusion Summit” conducted by Google at its main campus in Mountain View, California.
Damore says he felt pressured to attend the event because Google proclaims “commitment to diversity and inclusion” to be an important factor in deciding promotion to leadership positions.
The complaint states that due to “his excellent work performance,” Damore was “on the path to a leadership position at Google before his abrupt termination.”
He drafted the memo after Google asked for feedback on the contents of the summit.
The complaint states:
Damore’s memo then explained the harms of Google’s current method of simply looking at an individual’s race and/or gender when deciding who to hire, as it effectively lowered the bar for underrepresented minorities and women and increased tensions between employees. Furthermore, Damore pointed out that Google’s current method of increasing diversity resulted in what is known as reverse discrimination, because Caucasian and Asian males were not being selected for jobs and promotions due solely to their status as non-females or non-favored minorities.
Damore ended his memo advocating that Google treat employees and potential hires as individuals, “not members of tribes.”
I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).
Fearful of retaliation
The complaint notes the company has a Google Recognition Team that allowed employees to give fellow employees “Peer Bonuses” for arguing against Damore’s political viewpoints.
Google employees, according to the lawsuit, “have witnessed multiple instances in which hundreds of ‘progressive’ Googlers would target a single co-worker for harassment, and even potential violence, over a politicized matter, humiliating the person and sabotaging his career.”
“In some of these cases, the victim of the targeted harassment campaign was expressing legitimate concerns about discrimination against Caucasians and males in the workplace as a result of political agitation by social justice activists,” the complaint says. “As a result of this mistreatment and retaliation, many Google employees have been afraid to publicly come forward. Because of the virulent threats against them by fellow Google employees, their names are not being used in the Complaint at this time.”
In one example, in May 2015, a Google employee brought evidence of harassment and discrimination against other conservatives, males and Caucasians to the attention of Google’s human resources department.
“Google HR made excuses for the progressive activists, and waved away the misconduct, thus ensuring nothing was done about the systemic problem,” the complaint says.
The complaint also provides evidence that some Google managers have blacklists of conservative employees they won’t hire or with whom they refuse to work.
Throughout the summer of 2015, according to the complaint, a Google employee discussed the blacklist issue with several other concerned employees. In early August of 2015, the Google employee then raised “the issue of race and gender discrimination/harassment” at Google with Urs Hölzle, a senior vice president.
“This resulted in a targeted campaign of harassment and threats of blacklisting directed at the Google employee, which the Google management did nothing to stop; in fact, several members of management made statements that had the net effect of encouraging ‘unambiguous social pecking’ of political dissidents.”
The complaint also names three managers who “publicly endorsed blacklisting conservatives and actively preventing them from seeking employment opportunities at Google.”
One manager stated in reference to conservatives, whom he categorized as “hostile voices”: “I will never, ever hire/transfer you onto my team. Ever. I don’t care if you are perfect fit or technically excellent or whatever. I will actively not work with you, even to the point where your team or product is impacted by this decision. I’ll communicate why to your manager if it comes up.”
The complaint says other Google employees also suggested terminating employees with conservative values that did not comport with their own.
“One even suggested firing an employee twice simply to get the point across – conservatives were not welcome at Google.”