For years, Google has prided itself on its diverse hiring practices and its reputation as a progressive employer. A recent lawsuit has alleged that this is not always true, alleging pervasive racial discrimination throughout the company and a hostile working environment for people of color.
An Employee Tasked with Recruiting Minorities Alleges Racial Discrimination
The lawsuit was filed by April Curley, who was hired into an entry-level position at Google, despite the fact that she held a Master’s degree and had five years of experience. Her job was to recruit to boost the company’s diversity. However, the behavior that she alleges made Google an inhospitable place for minorities. She claims that the company’s emphasis on hiring minorities is a public relations ploy. According to Curley, Google hired minorities to boost numbers, then discriminated against them once they were employed. In Curley’s case, the company seems to have hired someone with extensive qualifications for a job that was beneath her skills and experience level.
Then, after working for the company for six years and moving from her hometown for the job, Curley was terminated after six years. She claims that the termination was wrongful. Curley alleges that she was hired to put on a good face for Google while it hired and discriminated against the minority candidates that she recruited into the company.
Another Employee Claims She Was Retaliated Against for Reporting Harassment
Curley is not the only Black employee to allege discrimination at the tech giant. Another employee, Chloe Sledd alleges that she was racially and sexually harassed by a white male in her department. Sledd says that she complained about the harassment, but the employee was allowed to keep his job. Instead, it was Sledd who paid the price for reporting the incident. She alleges that human resources accused her of lying and did not pursue the matter further. Sledd was moved to another department, where she was denied a promotion that went to a white colleague. Eventually, after this report and speaking up about racial issues in the company, Sledd says that she was forced to resign.
The numbers at Google seem to indicate that minorities are hired and promoted into senior management positions at a rate lower than their representation in the company. While just over 4% of the workers at Google are Black, only 2.3% of the tech workforce is Black.
The Company Has Been Accused of Illegal Treatment of Black Employees
Even though the company has made an effort to increase minority hiring, numbers alone do not tell the story. Curley alleges that some prospective Black employees were rejected for “not being Googly enough,” which was a code name for racial discrimination.
Curley’s attorney claims that Google:
- Does not credit Black employees for their experience the same way as they do white employees
- Fails to recognize Black employees with timely promotions and pay raises at the same rate as they do white employees
In addition, Google has experienced higher than normal turnover among underrepresented employees in the last several years. Google acknowledges that it has room for improvement when it comes to retaining minority talent. Many seem to be leaving the company for opportunities that they would be denied if they remained at Google.
There have been other stories about the allegedly unfair treatment of Black workers at Google. One worker was fired after she refused to take her name off a research paper that explored the societal dangers of an emerging branch of artificial intelligence and wrote a long note for internal consumption about her frustrations with Google’s diversity.
Google Is Already Being Investigated By California
Racial discrimination issues at Google may come under a much larger microscope. Curley’s attorney is attempting to turn the lawsuit into a class action, where all minority employees who have experienced discrimination at Google may join in the claim to seek financial recovery. In addition, the Department of Fair Housing and Employment is reported to have interviewed Black women at Google about experiences that they had at the company late last year, indicating that a larger investigation may be upcoming in the future. Google has already paid $3.8 million to settle a racial and sexual harassment complaint.
This case promises to present significant challenges for Google, both in terms of reputation and potential liability. Curley and Sledd are seeking reinstatement to their positions, along with back pay and punitive damages. They are also seeking damages on behalf of other Black employees at Google. They are trying to turn that case into a class-action lawsuit. Given the other allegations that California is investigating, this could turn problematic for Google.
How to Handle Racial Discrimination at Your Job
If you have been the victim of racial discrimination at work, you have rights under both federal and California law. Your legal steps should be as follows:
- Document everything pertaining to the alleged discrimination
- Look for patterns in how other minorities are treated, especially in comparison with white colleagues
- Pay attention to context and other signs
- Speak to an experienced attorney about the discrimination that you are enduring
You can file a complaint about discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment. They may file a lawsuit on your behalf or advise you that you can file your own lawsuit. You may be entitled to:
- Back pay
- Reinstatement to your job
- A promotion
- Punitive damages
- Emotional distress damages
Contact a Southern California Employment Law Attorney
At Arshakyan Law, we work for employees who have been the victims of discrimination and harassment on the job. We stand up to powerful companies just like Google when they are alleged to have violated federal and state law. Our role is to fight for justice for our clients when they have been on the receiving end of illegal treatment. Call us today at (888) 851-5005 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. You owe us nothing unless we win your case.