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Google Lawsuit: When the Discriminators Claim Discrimination

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: The new Google logo is displayed at the Google headquarters on September 2, 2015 in Mountain View, California. Google has made the most dramatic change to their logo since 1999 and have replaced their signature serif font with a new typeface called Product Sans. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
By George Khoury, Esq. on June 11, 2019

It's hard to believe when employees who discriminate against others claim that they themselves are the victims of discrimination. However hard it is to believe, the fact is that even people who hold discriminatory views can be protected from discrimination.

In certain states, like California, the anti-discrimination laws protect more than just the usual protected classes of race, sex/gender, religion and national origin. But even under federal law, just because a person is part of a majority group, that does not mean that they are immune from discrimination, or that the discrimination they face is any less illegal.

Discrimination Dangers

Generally, when employees make comments or take actions that are discriminatory, employers must take corrective action. Not doing so presents a danger that another employee impacted by the comment or action will have a claim against the company, or be able to show that the employer ratified the discriminatory comment/action through knowledge and inaction.

This can be rather tricky, particularly when the discriminatory statement or conduct has a connection to a person’s political, religious, or culturally held beliefs. Take for example the discrimination lawsuit against Google stemming from a fired engineer’s viral statement that basically expressed his belief that men are better suited to the leadership roles at Google because of their biology. The engineer’s lawsuit, which has been kicked into arbitration, claims that Google discriminates against white men and Asian men, particularly if they are politically conservative.

Discovering Google

Significantly, the engineer’s lawsuit has morphed into a potential class action that seeks to represent all conservative white and Asian men who applied to Google and weren’t hired due to the company's discriminatory biases against these groups. And while the media may be downplaying the merits of the case, Google has been vehemently defending itself in court.

Despite Google's best efforts, just last week, the plaintiffs defeated a motion to dismiss. What's worse for Google is that the plaintiffs were cleared to start the discovery process over Google's objection that the discovery sought would be incredibly burdensome due to the thousands of job applications it receives each year.

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