Updated Jan 8, 2018 5:11 PM EST
A former Google (GOOG) software engineer that claims biological factors contribute to gender inequality in the technology industry is suing the internet giant, accusing it of discriminating against him because of his sex, race and political views.
James Damore and another ex-engineer with Google, David Gudeman, claim in a lawsuit filed in federal court in California that Google treated employees seen as having conservative views differently than other workers, which they claim violates California labor law.
“Google employees who expressed views deviating from the majority view at Google on political subjects raised in the workplace and relevant to Google’s employment policies and its business, such as ‘diversity’ hiring policies, ‘bias sensitivity,’ or ‘social justice,’ were/are singled out, mistreated, and systematically punished and terminated from Google, in violation of their legal rights,” their complaint states.
The suit, which is being handled by Dhillon Law Group, seeks class-action status on behalf of any Google employee who claims to have faced similar discrimination.
“We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
Google dismissed Damore in August after he wrote and internally circulated a document, which he titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” asserting that women prefer jobs in “social and artistic” fields, while men prefer software coding. He also criticized Google for encouraging employees to participate in mentoring and diversity programs and for allegedly “alienating conservatives.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai quickly denounced the memo, saying it advanced “harmful gender stereotypes.” Shortly thereafter, Damore. More broadly, the case offered a window on what many people in the high-tech world say is rampant discrimination against women and minorities.
In their suit, Damore and Gudeman allege that Google illegally discriminates against white and male employees as well as job candidates, claiming the two were “ostracized, belittled and punished” for their political views and for the “added sin” of being white males.
“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 Caucasian and male employees and potential employees at Google,” they allege.
Google also is accused of using hiring quotas to recruit a set percentage of women and minorities, while “openly denigrating” male and Caucasian employees.
The company then harassed and retaliated against the plaintiffs when they challenged its employment practices, according to the complaint.
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