Google Hit With Second Discrimination Lawsuit

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Former Google engineer alleges discrimination after he was fired for opposing discrimination

Former Google employee Tim Chevalier has hit the search engine giant with a lawsuit, in which he alleges he was fired for his liberal political activism whilst working for the company.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, shows that Chevalier is seeking damages for lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and injunctive relief against those alleged harmful acts.

This is the second time in recent months that Google has been hit with a discrimination lawsuit. Google famously fired James Damore, the software engineer whose memo last year criticised the company’s diversity programme. Last month Damore sued Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white males.

Political Activities

The lawsuit filed by Tim Chevalier however is different.

Chevalier is described in his lawsuit as an “accomplished software developer and computer scientist” who joined Google as a Site Reliability Engineer in December 2015.

Unlike Damore however, Chevalier is very much a liberal and identifies himself as “disabled, queer, and transgender,” his lawsuit reads.

“Throughout his life, Chevalier has engaged in political activism, advocating for civil rights for transgender people, women, disabled people, and racial and sexual minorities,” said the lawsuit. These activities continues when he joined Google, and he describes Google’s workplace structure and culture as “overwhelmingly white, abled, straight, cisgender, and male.”

This meant, according to Chevalier, that Google’s workplace structure and culture were discriminatory toward minorities, the lawsuit alleges.

He said that supervisors at Google were critical of his political participation and dismissive of his attempts to change Google’s culture.

“Ultimately, Google fired Chevalier (in November 2017),” said the lawsuit. “Human Resources explicitly told Chevalier that Google was ending his employment because of his political statements in opposition to the discrimination, harassment, and white supremacy he saw being expressed on Google’s internal messaging systems.”

Chevalier alleged that Google staff frequently posted discriminatory and harassing comments on internal social forums.

“It is a cruel irony that Google attempted to justify firing me by claiming that my social networking posts showed bias against my harassers,” Chevalier told the Verge.

Interestingly, Chevalier’s posts had been quoted extensive in Damore’s lawsuit against Google.

For the record, Damore recently had a separate complaint rejected by the US National Labor Relations Board, which ruled that Google was in the right to fire him.

Code Of Conduct

“Google was enforcing its policy against the promotion of harmful stereotypes,” Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano told the Verge, speaking about the dismissal of Chevalier.

“An important part of our culture is lively debate. But like any workplace, that doesn’t mean anything goes. All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies, under which promoting harmful stereotypes based on race or gender is prohibited.

“This is a very standard expectation that most employers have of their employees,” Scigliano reportedly said. “The overwhelming majority of our employees communicate in a way that is consistent with our policies. But when an employee does not, it is something we must take seriously. We always make our decision without any regard to the employee’s political views.”

Quiz: What do you know about Google?

Read also :