Sacked Google employee files lawsuit against company citing bias

Saul Franklin
March 4, 2018

In April 2017, Google's "technology staffing management team" was told to cancel job interviews for software engineers with five or fewer years of experience who were not female, black or Latino, and to "purge entirely any applications by non-diverse employees from the hiring pipeline", according to the suit. Arne Wilberg worked at Google for 9 years, four of which were spent at YouTube as a recruiter.

Ever since Google released its first transparency report in 2014, the company's efforts to diversify its overwhelmingly male, white, and Asian workforce have been criticized as too little and too late for a company founded in 1998. The former staffer said Google - YouTube's parent company - invoked "clear and irrefutable policies" meant to exclude white and Asian men in hopes of increasing the brand's diversity last spring.

As the The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, a lawsuit filed in January by former YouTube recruiter Arne Wilberg alleges that he was sacked for resisting what he calls illegal and discriminatory efforts to diversify Google's workforce.

In another lawsuit this week, Google was dragged to court by a former female employee, who claimed that she often faced discrimination because of the so-called "bro culture" at the company.

The Wall Street Journal said that Wilberg's coworkers corroborated his story and said that Youtube's hiring initiatives were minority quota based and that some recruiters complained that this practice was unfair. Exhibits in the complaint include a screenshot of an internal document where recruiters tracked diversity goals for women and minorities, as well as two emails where a hiring manager instructed the recruiting team to "only consider" candidates from "historically underrepresented groups". They then mentioned that Google's racial and gender preferences in hiring were not up for debate, because this was morally and economically the best thing to do for Google. Employment lawyers explain to the Journal that while it's permissible for companies to try to boost diversity in its ranks, they can't hire based on race or gender, meaning quotas are off-limits.

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"We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity", a representative from Google told the Journal in a statement.

Wilberg claims that his performance reviews began to suffer as he refused to follow YouTube's diversity hiring agenda.

"We will vigorously defend this lawsuit", a Google spokesperson told TheWrap. Wilberg claims that he made multiple complaints to managers about YouTube's hiring process and escalated these complaints to superiors at Google before being fired last November.

The company also "had a practice of systematically discriminating against older engineers in its hiring practices", the suit says.

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