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James Damore, the author of the controversial “Google Memo” that went viral in August, has filed a class-action lawsuit against Google. The complaint? That his former employer unjustly discriminates against conservative white men, or those whose perspectives differ from Google management.
The lawsuit claims that Google is guilty of mistreating and terminating employees whose views deviated “from the majority view at Google on political subjects raised in the workplace.” This included employment and business-related topics such as “‘diversity’ hiring policies, ‘bias sensitivity’ or ‘social justice.'” The lawsuit also alleges that Google uses illegal hiring quotas in order to fill positions with female and minority candidates.
The lawsuit is being filed by Dhillon Law Group, and former Google engineer David Gudeman is also a member of the suit. Google terminated Gudeman in 2016 after he made comments suggesting a Muslim colleague had a link to terrorism. The lawsuit, which includes examples of internal Google communications that support its views, aims to get both monetary damages and punitive remedies.
Damore gained notoriety last fall for sharing a companywide “anti-diversity” memo that leaked outside of Google. The 10-page note asserted that women don’t flock into tech positions because of biological differences—not because of discrimination or social barriers. This, unsurprisingly, sparked rage on social media. After being fired for the rant (for violating Google’s code of conduct as well as proliferating negative gender stereotypes in the workplace), Damore complained to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. He also promised he’d follow up with legal action, a move he’s now fulfilled. Damore has equated being conservative at Google to being gay in the 1950s.
Part of the lawsuit includes a claim that Google maintains “secret blacklists” of conservative personalities and that their presence on Google’s campus triggers a “silent alarm.” When similar claims were made at the time of Damore’s original memo, “a Google spokesperson told Inc. that the practice of keeping blacklists is not condoned by upper management” and reiterated the company’s stance that any employee who discriminated against any member of a protected class (and political affiliation is such a class in the state of California) would be fired.
Following the firing and its social media aftermath, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai reiterated his, and his company’s, commitment to getting more women in tech, as well as women’s importance in the space.
Google is also the subject of a completely separate class-action lawsuit that alleges that female employees suffer from “systemic” gender discrimination, including lower wages and denied promotions. While it’s up to the courts to decide whether Google has violated labor laws in either of these cases, it’s clear that a number of women at the tech giant don’t believe they’ve been given any special treatment.
You can read Damore’s complete filing on Scribd.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.