James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired in August after posting a memo to an internal Google message board arguing that women may not be equally represented in tech because they are biologically less capable of engineering, has filed a class action lawsuit against the company in Santa Clara Superior Court in Northern California.
His claims: that Google unfairly discriminates against white men whose political views are unpopular with its executives.
Damore is joined in the 161-page suit by another former Google engineer named David Gudeman, who spent three years with Google working on a query engine. According to Gudeman’s LinkedIn profile, he left the company in December 2016 and has been self-employed since.
The lawsuit, filed by Dhillon Law Group, says it aims to represent all employees of Google who’ve been discriminated against due to their “perceived conservative political views by Google,” due to “their male gender by Google” and “due to their Caucasian race by Google.”
More specifically, it accuses Google of singling out, mistreating and systematically punishing and terminating 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’…”
Damore isn’t holding back any punches here. According to his filing, 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.”
The suit also claims that the “numerical presence of women celebrated at Google” was based “solely due to their gender” while the “presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during companywide weekly meetings.”
Somewhat redundantly, it adds that 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 is seeking monetary, non-monetary and punitive remedies.
Damore’s firing last summer became the talk of the nation, with many in Silicon Valley outraged that Google didn’t act even more swiftly to terminate him. Elsewhere, many wondered whether the firing would have a chilling effect on employees’ ability to openly discuss their viewpoints.
Google said it fired Damore for violating its code of conduct and advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Damore meanwhile began a kind of press tour, denouncing the company for being close-minded and worse. In an interview with CNBC, for example, he compared being a conservative at Google to “being gay in the 1950s.”
In a press conference this afternoon, Damore’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, a California representative for the Republican National Committee, elaborated more on the very lengthy complaint and argued that her current clients are far from alone.
In fact, she said she spoke with “dozens” of employees at Google to formulate the lawsuit and that she expects there will be “future lawsuits” to explore, as well.
To underscore her point that Google’s policies need to be amended, she cited so-called TGIF meetings at Google, telling reporters that during Damore’s tenure, “managers were called out and shamed and mocked if they didn’t have 50/50 gender parity in [their respective] units.” She called the goal “fair” but asked, rhetorically: “How do you get there? Job fairs. Making yourself more attractive. Not by saying, ‘White guy, you can’t have that job because that’s reserved for a woman or [other] minority.’”
Asked separately who is financing the suit, Dhillon told us in an email earlier today that “nobody but my law firm is financing the lawsuit at this time. We may choose to seek funding in the future, but neither Peter Thiel (I have been asked by others) or anyone else is involved besides my clients and my firm.” (Thiel, the billionaire investor, famously financed multiple lawsuits against Gawker Media.)
The new suit isn’t the only one Google is having to defend itself against. In September, three female former Google employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying it discriminates against women. To wit, says the suit, Google pays women at all levels of the company less than men, as well as assigns them lower job tiers with less opportunity for upward mobility.
Last month, a fourth complainant joined their suit.
The Labor Department is separately investigating systemic pay discrimination at Google. The company says it hasn’t found a pay gap in its own analysis.
You can read the lawsuit filed by Damore and Gudeman here: