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Former Google Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging the Company Fired Him Over Pro-Diversity Posts ( 308

According to court documents filed today, a former Google engineer is suing the company for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. "Tim Chevalier, a software developer and former site-reliability engineer at Google, claims that Google fired him when he responded with internal posts and memes to racist and sexist encounters within the company and the general response to the now-infamous James Damore memo," reports The Verge. From the report: Chevalier said in a statement to The Verge, "It is a cruel irony that Google attempted to justify firing me by claiming that my social networking posts showed bias against my harassers." Chevalier, who is also disabled and transgender, alleges that his internal posts that defended women of color and marginalized people led directly to his termination in November 2017. He had worked at Google for a little under two years. Notably, Chevalier's posts had been quoted in Damore's lawsuit against Google -- in which Damore sued the company for discrimination against conservative white men -- as evidence Google permitted liberals to speak out at the company unpunished. Chevalier's lawsuit alleges that his firing is, in fact, a form of punishment. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court and Chevalier is seeking damages for lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and injunctive relief against those alleged harmful acts. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Former Google Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging the Company Fired Him Over Pro-Diversity Posts

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  • by CptLoRes ( 4510239 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @09:48PM (#56167381)
    Regardless of you gender, race, beliefs, whatever, there are some unspoken but very obvious rules about what you say and don't say on company time. Especially in written form. But apparently some people didn't get the memo..
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @10:34PM (#56167541)

      I'm constantly being harassed because I'm a transgendered lesbian person of no-color - although I identify as Asian. People just assume that because I look like a white man and act like a heterosexual man, that I'm white heterosexual guy. When I tell them that my wife is a transgendered homosexual man of no-color but identifies as Black and that I'm in a non-traditional marriage, folks don't take me seriously. I get thrown out of LGBTQ groups and made fun of. Just because she has a vagina and breasts and can get pregnant doesn't mean he is a woman. And just because I can get erections doesn't mean I'm a man.

      People really need to stop this bigotry.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        To be fair, you aren't a man. You're a troll.

    • Regardless of you gender, race, beliefs, whatever, there are some unspoken but very obvious rules about what you say and don't say on company time.

      As companies demand more and more of your time, there's less of a distinction between company time and non-company time than there used to be. Besides, Google is a "bring your whole self to work" company which encourages discussion about things on their internal systems that at other companies would be considered unprofessional.

      We have professionalism for a reason, but companies like Google will nonetheless insist that meritocracy is a thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Finally someone gets it. Pushing this stuff hard at work is going to get problematic no matter which side you are on, if it starts to create a hostile workplace or badly impact the operation of the company. The way you deal with things like sexist encounters is not to post some stupid memes, it's to complain to HR and let them deal with it.

      This guy and Damore are both screwed.

  • Work? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @09:50PM (#56167393)

    Do they do any real work at Google anymore or just write weird memos about social justice all day?

    • Re: Work? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by c6gunner ( 950153 )

      Of course they do real work. Someone has to find and demonitize all the conservative YouTube channels ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They were programmed from an early age in public schools, which filled their heads with left wing ideology they were not allowed to question.

      This is the youth of today - good luck.

    • by Jarwulf ( 530523 )
      Probably 10-20% do most of the actual work while the rest are goldbrickers put there to either look good or just talk about diversity all day. Not a new phenomenon of course but now you can look busy talking about transgender rights all day as a senior database engineer instead of shuffling papers to hide how incompetent or useless you are.
    • Lots (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 )
      this is getting magnified by two thing:

      a). It's click bait. I predict 300+ comments on this post if not more.

      b). These lawsuits are being funded by the Republican party []. This is a major political issue for the Republican party. It's part of a larger narrative they're building that white males are under assault.

      Now, the fact is white males are... by declining wages due to outsourcing, H1-Bs, economic crashes caused by widespread deregulation, vulture capital firms killing off their jobs, etc, etc)
      • Re:Lots (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @12:26AM (#56167927)

        Sure, the Republican party is funding the Damore lawsuit, but this lawsuit, the one started by this transgender person, I doubt that's being funded by the Republican party.

        That last lawsuit against Google could be funded by Google against itself for all I know, to show that they're not showing bias in firing people since people from both sides are suing them.

        • "That last lawsuit against Google could be funded by Google against itself for all I know, to show that they're not showing bias in firing people since people from both sides are suing them."

          This. Also, I predict that this lawsuit, unlike Damore's, will be settled for a sweet sum.

        • So my point is that this clap trap about SJWs is a smoke screen promoted by the Republican party to distract white working class males from the real cause of their economic problems (to wit: Right Wing economic policies that destroy middle class jobs and wages while dividing the working class).

          Your response to that point isn't to attack it on it's merits, but to say that my point is irrelevant because there might be a conspiracy by Google to fund lawsuits against themselves as a false flag operation to d
    • Re:Work? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @10:35PM (#56167545) Homepage Journal

      Well, dashing off a memo (one way or the other) doesn't take a lot of time.

      What does take a lot of time, cumulatively speaking is reading such memos. If you send a memo and it gets distributed to a couple of hundred people, the cost of that memo can be staggering.

    • Re:Work? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @10:44PM (#56167581) Journal

      I know a dude who works there and he feels like he's undercover at this point, there's constant inane memos about excessive SJW stuff.

      Sure, obviously they do actual work in the place, but the diversity and equality group or whomever they are, really seem to have their fingers in every pie, fussing over the most inane bullshit.

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      Well, this guy's manager is named in the memo and accused of targeting him with a comment about spending 50% of the time writing weird memos.

      So clearly there's a desire for staff to be productive, and Chevalier disagrees with his former manager regarding the appropraite work/memo balance.

    • Re:Work? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @12:57AM (#56168019)
      A guy in my church congregation who works at Google, mentioned about three weeks ago that he feels if he ever says "I think that a marriage between a man and woman is good." He'll be escorted right out of campus. It does make me think how much non-development communication has to go on there to have such a fear.
    • Do they do any real work at Google anymore or just write weird memos about social justice all day?

      You do realise that Google has 74000 employees, and that you're complaining about a small handful right?

  • It seems that Google is attempting to establish some kind of 'even-handed' approach. The company remains overwhelmingly liberal, but it seem they're cutting the edges off for provocative discussion. The most radical 10% liberals are edged out but still 50% -> 100% on the conservative scale are edged out leaving only the most centrist conservatives as 'last ones standing'.

    Google has a right to cultivate their own corporate culter, you can't tell a private company how to run its business. I'm just enjoy
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @10:03PM (#56167469) Homepage

    I think the main issue here is that Google doesn't want people arguing this stuff on company time instead of working. Fighting against social ills like sexism and discrimination is a noble cause, but if employees are spending half their time doing so instead of working, the company will suffer.

    Better to rid of toxic people on both sides than to allow them to rile up others and cause big social problems within the company. A lot of times a group of people will work quite well as a team until politics is brought up, then it's practically World War Three.

    • I think the main issue here is that Google doesn't want people arguing this stuff on company time instead of working.

      Well if so, they have a funny way of showing it. As a company they spend a lot of time and energy talking about all this argle fargle.

      • "My manager does a lot of argle fargle" is not actually an excuse for ignoring strong hints from your manager for you to do less argle fargle. At will employment is what it is.

      • They have people who are paid to work on this stuff. And they have people who are paid to do other jobs. If you're paid to write software but you're spending your time championing diversity, you aren't doing the job you were hired/paid to do. If you want to do that kind of work, apply to transfer to the diversity department or whatever it's called. I read one of the articles on this and the particular employee was warned about spending too much time on social activism prior to getting fired.
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @10:08PM (#56167483)

    Just quickly post some things like these. Not saying this is what happened here, but seems to be a flaw in the system.

    It is also quite possible the actual problem here is these companies having styled themselves too much as a "home" and "welcoming place" in order to attract talented people (and have them work long hours uncompensated) and people working there are less and less aware that it is a place of work. You know, one of those places were you keep politics out and are expected to behave professionally all the time ...

  • by martinX ( 672498 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @10:08PM (#56167485)

    "A Google employee allegedly responded to the post by noting that asking for ID was just part of the job, Gizmodo reported. Chevalier then made a privilege-denying dude meme using Google’s internal meme generator with the caption, “I have opinions about forms of oppression that don’t affect me.” "

    Google has an internal meme generator. I'm sure it provides hours of laughter and cohesive working.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It’s a honey pot to figure out who to fire.

  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @11:02PM (#56167655)
    One might think the unwanted attention from outsider interlopers has forced Google's hand and they're quietly trying to clean house. Then again, one George Wallace and one Bull Connor and for two generations most of America has been assuming automatically all white Southerners are racist to the bone. So maybe Google doesn't get out from under this one for a good long while either.
  • Chevalier’s supervisors were critical of Chevalier’s political participation and dismissive of his attempts to change Google’s culture. Ultimately, Google fired Chevalier. Human Resources explicitly told Chevalier that Google was ending his employment because of his political statements in opposition to the discrimination, harassment, and white supremacy he saw being expressed on Google’s internal messaging systems

    The proper recourse for harassment is to report it to HR and let the company deal with it -- you don't get free reign to try to change the company's culture yourself. If the company doesn't deal with it, *then* you sue the company.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2018 @11:17PM (#56167693)
    Any large organization falls apart if professionalism isn't maintained to some degree (see current White House). Groups of people don't work together well with lots of emotional outbursts from its members. This is pretty consistent across most cultures. If somebody can't keep their shit together at work, then they gotta go. It's as simple as that.
    • True, but you gotta dig a little deeper. If corporate culture is that it's OK for some people to needle and agitate others to the point of losing their composure, that does not bode well for the 'no drama' smell test of corporate governance. If HR is part of the problem with tampons in the men's room and the like, then that also invites conflict and confrontation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2018 @02:11AM (#56168159)

    Anonymous for obvious reasons.

    I reported Tim to HR several times. Good to see that the system works.

    Tim posted a lot. A lot. Pretty much all of was abuse.
    I never saw any good faith pro diversity posts from him, so the article is wrong in that regard.
    Instead, his usual posting style consists of jumping into a discussion and start hurling serious abuse and personal attacks against whomever he thought was in the wrong.

    He regularly calls other work colleagues Nazi, Racist, Rapist. Relentlessly and over and over.

    He is very toxic and abusive. Shame it took this long to get rid of him.

    I don't think his lawyers really know what kind of stuff Tim was writing when at Google. If they did they would know that this whole "fired for being pro diversity" angle will crash and burn almost immediately once Google starts showing what really happened.

  • What if this is the....uh....guy....girl...whatever that leaked Damore's memo?

    Google surely would love to get rid of such employee...

  • little time.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner