James Damore, the former Google engineer who wrote a lengthy memo outlining what he perceived as innate gender differences that made women less equipped to work in tech than men, is suing the company for discrimination.
In a class action lawsuit filed today, Damore and another former Google employee, David Gudeman, claim that Google discriminated against them for their conservative views, their male gender, and their “Caucasian race.”
Google fired Damore in August after Gizmodo published his memo. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at the time that parts of Damore’s memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
After leaving Google, Damore became something of an alt-right hero and spoke out on Twitter about how “cool” he found Ku Klux Klan titles like Grand Wizard. The alt-right community rallied around him in the wake of his dismissal, calling for a boycott of the search giant.
“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 lawsuit claims. “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 also accuses Google of creating an “ideological echo chamber,” borrowing a phrase directly from Damore’s memo. Damore began circulating early drafts of the memo within Google in June, according to the lawsuit. In August, Damore submitted the memo to an internal mailing list called “Skeptics,” and it began to spread more widely throughout the company. After Gizmodo published the document, the lawsuit claims that Google’s HR representatives met with Damore and suggested he take it down from internal forums.
Damore was fired on August 7th for “perpetuating gender stereotypes,” the lawsuit alleges.
Gudeman, Damore’s co-plaintiff, worked as an engineer at Google for three years before being let go in 2016. The lawsuit claims that he left a comment on a document written by a female Google engineer in which Gudeman asserted that white men are “victims of a racist and sexist political movement and it is not their fault.”
The document he was responding to outlined how women might be silenced or derailed in the workplace. Gudeman wrote that the document resembled something “slave owners would have written for their slaves to help them understand how to interact with their masters.”
“Gudeman’s comments were not well-received by other supposedly open-minded Googlers,” the lawsuit states.
Gudeman also posted supportive comments on internal forums about then-President-elect Donald Trump in the fall of 2016 and bickered with a Muslim co-worker who wrote about his fears of religious discrimination. Gudeman wrote that he looked into the employee’s background and questioned him about a recent trip to Pakistan, according to the lawsuit. These comments led to his termination in December 2016.
“Google HR stated that Gudeman had accused [his co-worker] of terrorism based on [the co-worker]’s religion, and this was unacceptable,” the lawsuit says.
During a press conference today, Damore’s lawyer Harmeet Dhillon described him as an ideal employee who got involved with Google’s diversity efforts because he was seeking a promotion. Damore has been unable to find new employment since he was fired, Dhillon said. Damore attended the press conference, while Gudeman did not. Dhillon said that they are seeking other employees to join their class action.
Google routinely discriminated against employees who held conservative views, Dhillion claimed, and employees circulated memes about punching Nazis and Trump supporters.
“Don’t be evil, that’s Google’s motto. And yet there is nothing more evil than telling people like James you want to punch them,” Dhillon said.
“We look forward to defending against Mr Damore’s lawsuit in court,”a Google spokesperson said.
Updated 5:30 p.m. with additional information from the press conference and Google’s statement.