The computer engineer fired by Google for writing a memo in which he slammed the company's anti-conservative culture and said women are less suited to certain roles in tech and leadership, is considering taking legal action against the company.
As a reminder, now former Google employee James Damore, caused outrage when he circulated a manifesto on Friday, complaining about Google’s “ideological echo chamber” alleging women have lower tolerance for stress and that conservatives are more conscientious. The chess master, who studied at Harvard, Princeton and MIT and worked at Google's Mountain View HQ, was fired on Monday after the search giant’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said portions of Damore’s 10-page memo “violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes” despite saying in the same memo that Google employees shouldn't be afraid of speaking their minds.
One day after Google announced the engineer was fired, Damore said he would “likely be pursuing legal action”.
“I have a right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does,” he said in an email reported by the New York Times.
In a further email to Breitbart, he reportedly said: “They just fired me for ‘perpetuating gender stereotypes’.”
While liberals were delighted by the decision, others accused Google of hypocrisy as the company is itself currently involved in litigation with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the company systemically discriminates against women. Google has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. According to the company’s most recent demographic report, 69 percent of its workforce and 80 percent of its technical staff are male.
Among other things, Damore argued that “Google’s left bias has created a politically correct mono-culture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence”. He said: “The distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes, and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”
In his memo, subtitled “How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion”, he said he wanted to increase women’s representation in tech without resorting to discrimination.
He complained that “discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons and school dropouts”. His suggestions included the company making tech and leadership less stressful because “women are on average more prone to anxiety”. His dismissal followed "outrage" in Silicon Valley because Damore sought to explain the gender imbalance in the tech industry as a function of biological difference.
The senior software engineer had worked at Google since 2013 and had previously studied computational biology at Princeton, Harvard and the University of Illinois where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2010 in the top 3% of his class, according to his CV posted online and noted by the Guardian.
On Tuesday, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, said that he would like to hire Damore, declaring “censorship is for losers”.
Writing on Twitter he said: “WikiLeaks is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore. Women and men deserve respect. That includes not firing them for politely expressing ideas but rather arguing back.” He added: “I value intellectual diversity and workers rights to not be fired for politely expressing the ‘wrong’ opinion.”
I value intellectual diversity and workers rights to not be fired for politely expressing the "wrong" opinion. https://t.co/Qlqyht8CUA— Julian Assange ???? (@JulianAssange) August 8, 2017
Damore's termination also sparked a conservative backlash, with Breitbart and other websites rushing to Damore’s defence. Breitbart quoted an anonymous employee who claimed that “the diversity gospel has been woven into nearly everything the company does, to the point where senior leaders focus on diversity first and technology second.
“For conservative employees, this is obviously demoralising, but it is also dangerous. Several have been driven out of the company or fired outright for sharing a dissenting view.”
Eric Weinstein, managing director of Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm, wrote an open missive to Google asking it to “stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR”.
More to the matter at hand, legal observers have questioned whether Google has broken employment law by firing Damore.
Dan Eaton, an employment lawyer, in San Diego wrote on CNBC: “Federal labour law bars even non-union employers like Google from punishing an employee for communicating with fellow employees about improving working conditions … California law prohibits employers from threatening to fire employees to get them to adopt or refrain from adopting a particular political course of action.”
He also said” “It is unlawful for an employer to discipline an employee for challenging conduct that the employee reasonably believed to be discriminatory, even when a court later determines the conduct was not actually prohibited by the discrimination laws.”
A spokesman for Google in London declined to comment to the press on the legality of the decision.
Our guess: the most likely outcome will be a multi-million dollar settlement, and in a few months the name James Damore will be forgotten.
Finally, for those who still haven't read it, Damore's full memo is below (link):