A software developer says Google fired him because he spoke out against harassment
'An important part of our culture is lively debate,' Google says, 'but it doesn’t mean anything goes'
By Rob Price
Google has been hit with another lawsuit alleging that it unjustly fired an employee who spoke out about politics — but this time, the employee is on the political left.
Software developer Tim Chevalier alleges that the technology giant was rife with harassment and discrimination, and that he was dismissed in November 2017 after he spoke out in support of diversity.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Chevalier’s lawyers allege that he was wrongfully terminated and that Google violated the law by allowing a “hostile work environment.”
The case comes after another former Google employee, James Damore, was dismissed after speaking out about the internal politics of the company. Damore’s political stance was very different, however: He wrote a memo questioning the appropriateness of Google’s pro-diversity efforts, and has sued the company claiming it discriminates against white male conservatives.
Chevalier’s lawyers allege that Google employees used the company’s internal messaging systems and “posted discriminatory and harassing comments,” and that Chevalier — who identifies as transgender, disabled, and queer — called it out and “[asked] his peers to reflect on perspectives different from their own.”
Damore’s memo was among the posts that Chevalier criticised, the suit says, allegedly describing it as “misogynistic.”
“Chevalier’s supervisors were critical of Chevalier’s political participation and dismissive of his attempts to change Google’s culture,” the suit alleges. “Ultimately, Google fired Chevalier. Human Resources explicitly told Chevalier that Google was ending his employment because of his political statements.”
Reached for comment about Chevalier’s lawsuit, Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano said in a statement: “An important part of our culture is lively debate. But like any workplace, that doesn’t mean anything goes. All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies, under which promoting harmful stereotypes based on race or gender is prohibited.”
In a statement, Chevalier said: “It is a cruel irony that Google attempted to justify firing me by claiming that my social networking posts showed bias against my harassers. The anti-discrimination laws are meant to protect marginalised and underrepresented groups- not those who attack them.”
The full statement from Google is as follows:
“An important part of our culture is lively debate. But like any workplace, that doesn’t mean anything goes. All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies, under which promoting harmful stereotypes based on race or gender is prohibited. This is a very standard expectation that most employers have of their employees. The overwhelming majority of our employees communicate in a way that is consistent with our policies. But when an employee does not, it is something we must take seriously. We always make our decision without any regard to the employee’s political views.”
Here’s the full complaint from Tim Chevalier’s lawyers:
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