In August, Google employee James Damore published a 3300-word ‘manifesto’ about women in tech, suggesting they are underrepresented due to being psychologically and biologically less capable, rather than for legitimate reasons such as discrimination and harassment.
Google then fired Damore, with chief executive Sundar Pichai telling staff the comments “cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace” and the suggestions were “offensive and not OK”.
Today, TechCrunch reports Damore has filed a class-action lawsuit against Google, claiming the company unfairly discriminates against a historically repressed subsection of society: white males who hold conservative political viewpoints. Another former Google employee has also joined Damore in filing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in the Santa Clara Superior Court aims to represent 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”.
The suit also claims Google employs illegal hiring processes to hit quotas of hiring women and minorities, alleging it was “openly denigrating” male and Caucasian employees. The suit also claims the “presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during companywide weekly meetings”.
The lawsuit is seeking punitive, and both monetary and non-monetary, remedies.
At the time of Damore’s initial memo, leaders in the Australian startup community appropriately slammed the arguments in the ‘manifesto’ as “plain stupidity”, “offensive”, and “clearly extreme and ridiculous”.
“Any suggestion that there are biological differences that make women more or less suited to work in technology is plain stupidity. Using the masquerade of free speech to convey this sort of opinion is insidious,” James Cameron of Airtree Ventures told StartupSmart at the time.
“Gender and other minority stereotypes are incredibly harmful in the workplace and we within the tech ecosystem need to be doing everything we can to counteract them.”
However, a number of figureheads, whilst condemning Damore’s comments, highlighted that the Australian startup community shouldn’t get swept up in incidents occurring in Silicon Valley, with Girl Geek Academy founder Sarah Moran saying “we run our own race in Australia”.
“Whilst we are conscious of global issues, there’s a lot of things pointing towards a very positive environment for women in tech here,” she said.
“Whilst there are many areas that are ripe for improvement, we don’t have the same entrenched or legacy issues in tech, because it is a younger community and we have the opportunity to correct the culture early.”