Google could have a problem with lawsuit alleging discrimination against conservative white guys

Megan McArdle:

The lawsuit, just filed in a California court, certainly offers evidence that things were uncomfortable for conservatives at Google. And especially, that they were uncomfortable for James Damore after he wrote a memo suggesting that before Google went all-out trying to achieve gender parity in its teams, it needed to be open to the possibility that the reason there were fewer women at the firm is that fewer women were interested in coding. (Or at least, in coding with the single-minded, nay, obsessive, fervor necessary to become an engineer at one of the top tech companies in the world.)

I understand why conservative employees were aggrieved. Internal communications cited in the lawsuit paint a picture of an unhealthy political monoculture in which many employees seem unable to handle any challenge to their political views. I personally would find it extremely unsettling to work in such a place, and I am a right-leaning libertarian who has spent most of my working life in an industry that skews left by about 90 percent.

Damore and his co-plaintiffs, for example, can count on future prospective employers looking at this suit and deciding that they’d rather hire, well, almost anyone else. It doesn’t matter how righteous your claim; for obvious reasons, employers do not like litigious employees, and they will go out of their way to avoid hiring those people.

But ironically, Damore probably has the least to lose from this case. If he had been fired quietly, even in a case of clear political discrimination, then he would have very good reason to keep his head down, find another job, and gripe to his friends over the occasional beer. But Googlers leaked his memo to the media, and then management fired him in a very public and humiliating way that was bound to make it very hard for him to get another job. By doing so, they ensured that he would have little reason not to sue the firm, if he could find a lawyer to take the case -- and also ensured that there would probably be a number of angry conservative lawyers interested in taking the case.

That was stupid, because Google has an immense amount to lose, even if a court ultimately vindicates its corporate culture. The company’s internal systems, featuring an immense array of internal employee communications, will be ripped open to scrutiny. If I were a Google executive, I wouldn’t want to bet that employees haven’t said much worse things in emails and on message boards than those featured in the lawsuit. Things that are plainly, inarguably, expensively illegal.

But I also wouldn’t want even milder utterances to turn up as testimony in a lawsuit. Because every nasty comment and intemperate remark about Republicans or white males or conservative Christians is going to get broadcast to the public when this case goes to trial. And as you may have noticed, those folks are half the country.
There is much more and McArdle does point out the difficulty of the suit for the plaintiffs too.   I think she is right that the discovery, in this case, could be very troublesome for Google.  The fact that they fired the man also plays into discontent that is already out there because of Googles alleged unfair treatment of conservatives in searches as well as its onesided fact checks that ignore liberals.

Google along with other Silicon Valley outfits have shown disdain for the half of the country that is not like them from a political perspective.  This is not good for their long-term business model and could see that half of the country searching for data elsewhere.  Some already are.


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