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Gender stereotypes are not a political opinion: US regulators affirm Google’s firing of James Damore

Michael Liedtke/AP
James Damore, right, a former Google engineer fired in 2017 after writing a memo about the biological differences between men and women, speaks at a news conference while his attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, listens, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in San Francisco. Damore discussed his lawsuit alleging that Google discriminates against workers with conservative opinions. (AP Photo/Michael Liedtke)
By April Siese
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

He wrote a memo and lost his job. Now, the National Labor Relations Board has found that Google was within its right to fire engineer James Damore, author of an infamous diatribe titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”

Damore, among other claims, argued that women aren’t cut out to be engineers due to biological differences. Upon its July 2017 release, Google’s HR department received multiple complaints, and the memo was eventually leaked to the media. Damore filed a complaint with the NLRB after being fired a month later.

NLRB attorney Jayme Sophir recommended in a January 16 advice memo that the labor board dismiss Damore’s complaint, which was withdrawn a week later. He is now suing the company in a separate lawsuit. Sophir cited Google’s carefully crafted talking points, which were read over the phone to Damore upon his termination.

The company explicitly stated that discrimination was the issue, not Damore’s political beliefs or opinions. “Our decision is based solely on the part of your post that generalizes and advances stereotypes about women versus men,” one of the talking points notes. “This is not about you expressing yourself on political issues or having political views that are different than others at the company. Having a different political view is absolutely fine. Advancing gender stereotypes is not.”

Damore’s ongoing lawsuit alleges that Google is the one being discriminatory, with a bias against white male conservatives. He’s joined by one co-defendant, a former employee named David Gudeman. Though filed as a class action suit, it’s far from certain Damore and Gudeman will receive class certification.

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