Technology |Emerging

Google accused of firing engineer for speaking out against harassment

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Former Google engineer Tim Chevalier has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, saying he was fired for speaking out against harassment and criticizing a controversial memo that was circulated around the company, alleging that the gender pay gap was a result of genetic differences.

That memo was written by another ex-Google employee James Damore, who is also suing the company (The Guardian), for allegedly discriminating against politically conservative white men. In a class-action lawsuit (full document here) against the tech giant, Damore argued that conservatives are “ostracized, belittled, and punished” at the company.

Chevalier said he was dismissed in November 2017 for speaking out about harassment and discrimination at Google, and for condemning Damore’s “anti-diversity” memo. Chevalier, who identifies as “queer, disabled and transgender,” filed the lawsuit on Wednesday which says that Google violated the law by allowing what he believes was a “hostile work environment.”

The site reliability engineer’s lawsuit offers a very different perspective of Google’s internal politics from Damore’s. Chevalier’s lawsuit says that he regularly advocated for diversity ethics on internal forums and email chains, which his attorney called “a cesspool of bullying and harassment.” (The Guardian).

Damore was fired in August for circulating the memo that alleged the gender imbalance at Google was a result of genetic differences between men and women, and cited an “ideological echo chamber” at Google. The memo was leaked, causing worldwide outrage, and a backlash that lead to Damore’s firing.

Three women are also suing Google with a revised gender pay lawsuit (CNN Money), alleging that women are paid less than men at the company.

This is an emerging story which needs expansion if you wish to EDIT to add information or discuss it in TALK.

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Talk (17)

Lytton Hall

Lytton Hall

"And mere moments later, he returns wi..."
Lytton Hall

Lytton Hall

"It's called flirting, miss. Some fol..."
Amy Gleixner

Amy Gleixner

"If you have some studies or reporting..."
Lytton Hall

Lytton Hall

"I'm all for protections against firin..."


United Kingdom
Lydia is a staff journalist at WikiTribune, where she writes about politics, women's rights, inequality, sexual politics and more. Previously she headed up the women’s rights and political content at Konbini for over two years. In 2016, she made ‘Building Big’, a documentary about bigorexia and male body image. Her work has also been published in Dazed & Confused, Refinery29, Vice, Lyra, Banshee and Buffalo Zine. She is based in London.

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Talk for Story "Google accused of firing engineer for speaking out against harassment"

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  1. I’m all for protections against firing based on gender or sexuality, but I think it needs to be pointed out how volatile a work environment can become when you have such diverse ideological perspectives as far left and far right, to choose two absurdly general examples. While companies should obviously seek to bridge that ideological gap (remember when jobs were about making money to support yourself and/or increase your financial comfort?) not all employees are willing to toe the line. The more vocal they are on issues, unfortunately, the more controversial they become. And the more controversial they are, the greater the negative impact on the work environment. So, frankly, Google was well within right and reason to fire both of these employees. They put their heads up when they knew doing so would spark discord. I am in agreement with James’ findings, but I don’t think he should have been so vocal about them in what is clearly a very mixed ideological bag of nuts… Pun not intended.

    Also, I think the author needs to change her photo to something she likes, like a natural environment or a tasty food. The one she’s using is extremely distracting… >_>

    1. If you have some studies or reporting to cite, ‘volatile work environment’ changes could be added to the story, but it doesn’t really work if it’s an anecdote.

      Also not sure if you were trying to make a joke or just trolling, but if you’re serious with that addendum, then perhaps you should look at your own photo and swap it for something YOU like. A car or a football, perhaps. Or a shirt. ;P

      1. It’s called flirting, miss. Some folks do it conversationally, myself included. (Everyone likes to be appreciated now and again, after all, am I right?) And while I have no dislike of shirts, I have very few pictures of myself and fewer still that I appreciate the look of. That one wasn’t even taken by me, in fact. My mother was staying over from out of town and decided she was done letting me dodge her photo ops. Mission accomplished, I guess? I could take the time to crop it, but I haven’t done so yet, and I’m not overly concerned with offending folks with the sight of my shoulders. (If I were a woman in a strapless dress, I suppose this would be a null issue, but such is life.)

        As to the comments directly pertaining to the story, you are correct that anecdotes do not equate to verifiable facts, but I wasn’t suggesting a correction, simply stating personal observations. I’d be happy to do a bit of digging, though I hadn’t deemed it neccessary or even intended to take my efforts further than that, given that I was merely commenting. Others here have done similarly. I’ll see what I can pull together, if that would appease your curiosity.

        1. And mere moments later, he returns with the results. Boom. (Honestly, I didn’t expect to find studies relating to my observation so quickly, but then I make a point of forming few expectations on any subject before I have any experience to build from.)

          I’ve only skimmed quickly through each of these; I’ll be giving them a closer look after I’ve posted this message. The first several do seem to cite studies (at external links I have yet to even venture to) but the last seems to essentially be an opinion piece. Advise for dealing with workplace political tension, which some folks here may be interested in taking a look at. At any rate, I simply posted my initial findings. Didn’t feel the need to cherry-pick through it. People here are adults. (And presumably responsible enough to form their own more-or-less unbiased opinions on various topics.) It would be somewhat inappropriate to presume the need to filter through the articles for them, yes?

          Now to nourish my mind… Bon appetit!

  2. I’d like to see something about him being conservative in the title. He’s not saying he’s being discriminated because he’s a white male as much as he is because he is a conservative. This headline feels just a little bit like clickbait to me. Not terrible, but I don’t think it tells the whole story.

    1. It appears the three stated reasons are the defendant’s conservative views, their male gender, and their Caucasian race.

      This is what the class-action lawsuit says:

      …Google discriminated against (i) due to their perceived conservative political views by Google in California at any time during the time period beginning four years prior to the filing of this Complaint through the date of trial in this action (“Political Class Period”); (ii) due to their male gender by Google in California at any time during the time period beginning one year prior to the filing of this Complaint through the date of trial in this action (“Gender Class Period”); and/or (iii) due to their Caucasian race by Google in California at any time during the time period beginning one year prior to the filing of this Complaint through the date of trial in this action…

      1. Yeah fair enough. Since conservative is listed first, I think the change to include that part in the title in addition to the others is a good one. Thanks.

        1. Hi both, thank you for your insight – we changed the headline to include conservative as that is one of the main reasons for the case. Cheers!

          1. If either of you would like to add to the story, please do by hitting ‘edit story’ above – more details on the legalities of the lawsuit would be perfect.

  3. A discussion of the legal aspect of this would be interesting. I am not a lawyer, but as far as I know there is no legal protection for people with a particular political point of view. Though it seems an easy case to make that the firing was based on the man’s political point of view, that does not help him if there is no law prohibiting discrimination based on political point of view.

    1. There is a California law protecting political affiliation: The Bane Civil Rights Act.


      The Bane Civil Rights Act protects people from continued violence or the threat of violence based on grounds such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability or position in a labor dispute.

      1. I don’t think that would count in this instance (not being a lawyer, however) because that protects people from violence, not from being fired.

        1. Being fired isn’t verbal violence, there has been no other verbal violence from Google to my knowledge. If based on what has been said here this California law consists of, I see this lawsuit failing.

        2. OSHA says verbal abuse is workplace violence.

          They are clearly going after the political affiliation angle in lawsuit. The Bane Civil Rights Act was the only thing I could find that supported that. I’d love to know is there is something else.

    2. You’re correct. These are the only protected aspects of employees:

      If he could make it just sex- or race-based, or if he claimed religious beliefs, that would be protected, but you are correct, political leaning is not protected.

      I would guess his lawyers know that and are leaning on the “white” and “male” part.

      When you say “of the legal aspect”, Mark, could you clarify? Do you mean the legalities of employment protections in general, or the legal aspect of Damore’s case in particular?

    3. That’s a really good idea. Feel free to go in and hit ‘EDIT STORY’ and add in the legalities of the case. From what I can see this hasn’t been explored elsewhere.

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