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Another Google Memo Goes Viral, This One Alleging Pregnancy 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 Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 12, 2019

Google is a big company. And in any company large enough, internal documents find their way to external audiences. Sometimes it's good news, like 10 percent raises for everyone. (Not good news for the leaker, though, who was fired.) And sometimes it's a bad look, like an engineer arguing that women are biologically ill-suited for tech and leadership jobs. (Not a great look or a company already being investigated for a gender pay gap, or that engineer, who was also fired.)

Now another memo, initially posted to an internal message board, has gone viral, and the latest leak claims pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. (No need to worry about the author getting fired -- she says she won't be going back to work following her parental leave.)

"I'm Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why"

"I'm sharing this statement because I hope it informs needed change in how Google handles discrimination, harassment and retaliation," the as-yet-unidentified woman wrote in a memo posted to company message board for expecting and new mothers two weeks ago. "This is a long read, but the details are important in understanding the often drawn-out, isolating and painful experience of victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Also, if anything similar has happened to you, know that you're not alone."

She goes on to describe discriminatory remarks made by her manager about pregnant women, and how their relationship worsened after she reported the comments to human resources:

"I documented what my boss was saying and reached out to HR to ask for help in navigating the situation. It was shared that others had reported my manager behaving inappropriately and that feedback had already been given to her. I was told my comments might be shared directly with my boss, but not to worry because strong measures are in place at Google to prevent retaliation. Almost immediately upon my discussions with HR, my manager’s demeanor towards me changed, and drastically. I endured months of angry chats and emails, vetoed projects, her ignoring me during in-person encounters, and public shaming."

She also claims that she was discouraged from taking maternity leave, and was told it might "stress the team" and "rock the boat":

"During one conversation with my new manager in which I reiterated an early leave and upcoming bedrest, she told me that she had just listened to an NPR segment that debunked the benefits of bedrest. She also shared that her doctor had ordered her to take bedrest, but that she ignored the order and worked up until the day before she delivered her son via cesarean section. My manager then emphasized in this same meeting that a management role was no longer guaranteed upon my return from maternity leave, and that she supported my interviewing for other roles at Google."

Let Me Google That for You

Just in case you were unaware, pregnancy discrimination is illegal under federal law. And while it doesn't appear this (we're guessing now former) employee has filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a civil lawsuit yet, it's more bad news leaking out of a very big company.

"We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy," Google said in a statement to Vice's Motherboard. "To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation."

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