Google Transgender Ex-Employee Sues Over ‘Cesspool’ Environment

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By John McCoy

Google allegedly fired a “disabled, queer, transgender” employee for pushing back against harassing posts on the tech giant’s internal messaging system.

The internal forum used for interoffice communication was filled with posts that “attacked women and people of color” and expressed “white supremacist views,” according to the complaint. The lawsuit, filed by former employee Tim Chevalier, cites one particular exchange where it was posited “if we have fewer Black and Latin@ people here, doesn’t that mean they’re not as good?”

Chevalier, who joined the company in 2015 as a site reliability engineer, says he was fired after he challenged the culture of hostility. The complaint says that human resources explicitly told him that he was being fired because of his response to the harassment. His online responses were “political” in nature and, according to a statement from Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano, were not “consistent with our policies.”

This lawsuit is the most recent in a series of legal challenges being leveled at Google, and it echoes a similar occurrence from 2017. It was last year that then-Google employee James Damore wrote a memo expressing opinions on the dearth of women at the company and criticizing hiring initiatives that target women and minorities as “misguided” because of “biological differences.” He was later fired and he subsequently sued, arguing that the Mountain View behemoth was “hostile towards straight white men.”

Both these matters come on the heels of a pay equity lawsuit, where the female plaintiffs claim that they are payed less than their male counterparts solely on the basis of gender. The pay equity lawsuit came out of a 2015 lawsuit by the Department of Labor. The DOL was seeking compensation data, which is not uncharacteristic when dealing with a company that accepts government contracts.

Google was not immediately available for comment.

David A. Lowe of Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe LLP in San Francisco is representing Chevalier.

The case is Chevalier v. Google, Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. CGC-18-564473, complaint filed 2/21/18.

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