Google appears to be finding out the hard way that there is no possibility of being correct in dealing with modern day gender diversity claims. For, after that James Damore memo and firing we’ve now got someone claiming they were fired because they protested about it. It is possible to read a little between the lines here and think that the parting of employment ways wasn’t so much about what was said but about the time taken to say it. But then that’s not quite how these things work out in the court of public opinion, is it?
A former Google engineer has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was fired for speaking out against James Damore’s controversial memo about gender, the latest development in a litigious battle over diversity and speech at the technology company.
Tim Chevalier, a site reliability engineer who worked for Google until November 2017, sued his former employer in California state court on Wednesday. Chevalier, who identifies as queer, disabled and transgender, alleges that Google terminated him over posts he made on internal forums advocating for diversity at Google and criticizing Damore.
Those varied characteristics of Chevalier, at least some of them being protected, aren’t quite the point here. Or at least that’s what Google appears to be saying:
The suit alleges that Chevalier was chastised by his manager for spending too much time on “social activism” and by human resources for a blogpost he wrote criticizing the Damore memo as “misogynistic”. According to the suit, Google objected to Chevalier’s use of the phrase “white boys” in his blogpost because it “could be perceived as a generalization about race and gender”.
We would read that as “time to do some work not social justice activism at work” but perhaps that’s just us.
But to move from the specific to the more general. How can anyone manage a workforce with these sorts of rules in place? Google itself seems to think it has a problem with diversity – especially the female/male mix – in the workplace. The company is famed for being engineering driven, attempting at least to find the root causes of problems before trying to fix them. Damore might have been misguided (we don’t think he was but that’s another matter) but it was an attempt to find that root cause. And yet when that’s dealt with according to progressive mores, we’ve this claim from the other side, that the discrimination is pro- those ideas that got Damore let go.
What actually is a viable line to take when this sort of thing is going on? And yes, it does need to be defined otherwise no one will be able to get anything done in any large organisation.