Ex-Google engineer James Damore filed a complaint in California state court, seeking class certification for his employment discrimination case against the tech giant, claiming Google is biased against conservative viewpoints, men, and Caucasians, in violation of state employment laws.
Damore wrote an internal memo about the biological reasons women aren’t engineers that sparked national outrage and got him fired from his job last August. He’s petitioned the Santa Clara County Superior Court on behalf of similarly situated plaintiffs, or “all employees of Google discriminated against (i) due to their perceived conservative political views” in the last four years, “due to their male gender” and/or “due to their Caucasian race“ in the last year.
He is joined in the complaint by David Gudeman, a software engineer who worked at Google in Mountain View, California, for three years, left in December 2016, and is currently writing a book between temporary engineering jobs, per his LinkedIn. The duo argues:
Throughout the Class Periods, and in violation of California law, 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.
It’s not certain that this class—conservatives, men, and Caucasians who were discriminated against by the company—will be certified. Apart from the fact that its claims fly in the face of data about tech’s hiring practices—which shows that Silicon Valley favors white men—and that Google women filed a gender discrimination claim against Google in August, and that a Department of Labor investigation in April 2017 argued that there’s an extreme gender pay gap that hurts women, most class actions filed in California are not certified.
“Class certification only occurs in a small percentage of the cases that are originally filed as class actions in California state court,” according to a 2010 state court report (pdf). Of the 22% of class actions in which the class is certified, 16% get the certification status upon settlement, meaning very few of these case are actually litigated.
Damore’s claims echo those of conservatives from the White House down. The filing says that “Google employees and managers strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink.” Challenges to the groupthink, argues Damore, led to threats, “harassment and retaliation from Google.”
Damore ignited a national firestorm last year after writing a controversial 10-page manifesto entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” (pdf). In it, he cites scientific papers to draw questionable conclusions about tech’s gender gap, claiming it’s partially caused by innate biological differences between men and women. He accused Google of favoring women and minorities through its hiring practices.
The company, in denying the allegations, fired Damore for on Aug. 7 for advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, although the CEO acknowledged “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it.”
Whatever happens to this case, and whether or not a class will be certified, it’s certain that debate will continue and keep dividing men and women on the left and right.