Software engineer James Damore — who was fired by his employer, Google, after penning an anti-diversity manifesto reminiscent of discredited chauvinist theories of biological determinism — announced today that he intended to sue his former employer for discrimination.
Damore had hired the Dhillon Law Group in the wake of Google sacking him, a decision that the company made after facing widespread public scrutiny for the tone and candor of Damore’s screed. In it, Damore suggested there were “biological reasons” that women weren’t in tech jobs and said that “facts” like these had been ignored. (I previously wrote a breakdown of the shoddy science and logic Damore uses in his rationale, which was written in the tradition of conservative justifications for sexism.)
That Damore had gone to Dhillon Law Group with his grievances meant that many expected a lawsuit was forthcoming. But today we got to see the full details of the suit, filed in the county of Santa Clara (where Google's Mountain View campus is located) this morning at 9:43 a.m. Damore and David Gudeman, another aggrieved former engineer, were listed as plaintiffs. The suit says that the plaintiffs believe that Google discriminated against them for their “perceived conservative political views,” “their male gender” “and/or” their “Caucasian race.” “These violations also subject Google to claims for violation of California’s Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq,” the suit reads.
Damore and Gudeman’s suit is suspect inasmuch as it belies the demography of Google employees. The tech industry is well-known for having a gender gap as well as for being overwhelmingly white; Google is no exception. As Alessandra Maldonado wrote in Salon last August, “statistics show women in tech are on the decline.” She quoted research that found that “in 1990, 35 percent of computing jobs were held by women, compared to just 26 percent in 2013.”
“Even though 30 percent of Google's employees [in 2014] were women, only 17 percent of them held tech jobs,” she noted.
Besides being 70 percent male, Google is also a very white employer. Famously sensitive about releasing diversity data, Google disclosed in 2014 that its workforce was 61 percent white.
Hence, James Damore faces an uphill battle in proving that he, a white male employee in a company that is 70 percent male and 61 percent white, was discriminated against for being either white and/or male.
Ironically, Google is simultaneously facing a lawsuit for allegedly paying some of its female employees less than their male counterparts.