Google recently fired software engineer James Damore for writing an internal
memo that questioned the company’s efforts to be more diverse and
inclusive. In the memo, Damore argued that women have such low numbers
when it comes to holding technical positions in the industry because of
biological differences, not discrimination based on gender.
The memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”
utilized gender stereotypes and broad generalizations to support the tech
industry’s gender gap. The memo quickly spread throughout the company
and Silicon Valley, resulting in numerous Google employees pushing back
against many of the assumptions it contained, primarily the notion that
at women aren’t interested in high-stress jobs because they are
more anxious than males.
Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, sent out a company-wide
email that’s said, “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes
in our workplace,” Damore had crossed a line and violated the company’s
code of conduct.
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting
and feel judged based on their gender…Our co-workers shouldn’t
have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting,
they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’
rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’
or being ‘neurotic,’” wrote Pichai.
The publicity the memo received has put Google in a tough positon. While
the company has a history of promoting a culture of openness, it has been
dealing with criticism levied at the tech industry which suggests that
not enough has been done to hire and promote women and minorities.
Speaking to the New York Times, Damore stated that he wrote the memo to
engage in an “honest discussion” about Google’s intolerance
for ideologies that do not align with the left. Damore went on to say
that he believes the company’s decision to fire him was illegal
and that he would pursue legal action.
Do you have more questions about workplace retaliation based on personal
or political beliefs? Contact our Hollister employment law attorney
to find out how we can help you today.