There is a lot of discrimination happening at Google

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


More than 20,000 employees around the world had walked out of the company’s offices to protest that Google had paid out over $100 million to multiple executives accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. In response, the tech giant apologized and said it would overhaul its sexual misconduct policies and that it would be more supportive of workers who raise concerns about problems at work.

But almost a year after the historic walkout, a dozen current and former Google employees told Recode that many employees are still justifiably afraid to report workplace issues because they fear retaliation. They say the company continues to conceal rather than confront issues ranging from sexual harassment to security concerns, especially when the problems involve high-ranking managers or high-stakes projects. And in a previously unreported internal document obtained by Recode, dozens more employees say that when they filed complaints with Google’s human resources department, they were retaliated against by being demoted, pushed out, or placed on less desirable projects.

A spokesperson for Google said the company is aware of the document but declined to comment on it or any specific cases of alleged retaliation. In a statement to Recode, Google Vice President of People Operations Eileen Naughton defended how the company handles misconduct claims.

“Reporting misconduct takes courage and we want to provide care and support to people who raise concerns,” Naughton said. “All instances of inappropriate conduct reported to us are investigated rigorously, and over the past year we have simplified how employees can raise concerns and provided more transparency into the investigations process at Google. We work to be extremely transparent about how we handle complaints and the action we take.”

After the retaliation document began circulating internally in late April, Google employees continued to use internal listservs to share similar retaliation cases related to sexual harassment and discrimination. In one anonymous mailing list dedicated to discussing mental health, at least seven stories about retaliation were shared in just the past few months, according to a source.

Another Google employee wrote that her boss, who allegedly called her an “emotional woman,” passed her over for a promotion due to gender bias. When she reported this to HR, she said was eventually moved to a different manager, but she continued to receive a lower salary compared to her male colleagues who she says matched her performance assessments. (Google has standardized categories of performance assessments, such as “Exceeds Expectations.”)

“My colleagues just keep telling me, ‘stay quiet and do your job,’” the female employee wrote. “‘Speaking out will just make things worse.’ How is this happening at Google?”

In another case, an employee wrote that they tried to raise concerns about “something unethical happening at Google.” In response, the employee alleges that HR delivered “a veiled threat” that their immigration status would be at risk if they continued to pursue the ethical concern.

“Fortunately, I was no longer dependent on Google for my immigration status,” the employee wrote. But, as the employee saw it, the case showed that HR was allegedly “leveraging personal vulnerabilities” of employees “to quash concerns, protect abusers and retaliate against those who speak out.”

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