A former Google and YouTube recruiter is suing the firm for firing him for opposing recruitment practices that excluded white and Asian male applicants.
According to a civil lawsuit filed by Arne Wilberg, a recruiter for engineering and technology positions at Youtube and parent company, Google, the firm implemented policies that favoured Hispanic, African-American and female job applicants – NBC News reports.
The lawsuit found that Wilberg complained to managers and HR about the practices. However, in November, he was fired for “not meeting goals” and “talking too much in meetings” - among other factors.
The complaint states that Wilberg “was an exemplary employee and received positive performance evaluations until he began opposing illegal hiring and recruiting practices at Google.”
The court documents refer to Google policies that set out its diverse hiring goals. It described an instance in March 2017, where the manager of YouTube’s tech staffing management team sent an email stating that new software engineering candidates must be from “historically underrepresented groups.”
The Register reports that Wilberg claims he was ordered to cancel software engineering interviews with zero to five years of experience with anyone not either female, black, or Hispanic, and to delete applications from non-diverse employees.
Wilberg's court case concluded that Google: “implemented clear and irrefutable policies, memorialized in writing and consistently implemented in practice, of systematically discriminating in favour job applicants who are Hispanic, African American, or female, and against Caucasian and Asian men."
It also described another recruiter’s feedback around the ‘diversity’ hiring program, who compared the way the team talked about black people during meetings to “talking about black slaves as slave traders on a ship”.
In an email to The Register, a Google spokesperson said the company intends to vigorously defend against these claims. "We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity," Google's spokesperson said.
"At the same time, we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles, as this helps us hire the best people, improve our culture, and build better products."
The lawsuit also alleged Google instructed employees to delete any references to the race/gender quotas from its emails to keep their practices under wraps.
It alleges discrimination in violation of California Government code and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation. It also asks for Google to prohibit discriminatory profiling in future.
Whilst many firms have adopted policies to encourage diversity, such as quotas based on gender or ethnicity, they could violate anti-discrimination laws.
In the UK, such practices would be outlawed by the Equality Act 2010, which forbids recruiters from discrimination based on sex, age, gender or religion, amongst others.
This is just one of several equality-based lawsuits Google is currently fighting. James Damore, a former software engineer, alleges that the tech giant discriminates against white, conservative men, while Tim Chevalier, former software developer, claims he was fired for defending women of color and marginalized people in internal messages.
Loretta Lee, another former developer, is suing Google after being harassed by male colleagues who allegedly spiked her drinks and shot at her with toy guns.
The company said in a statement: "We have strong policies against harassment in the workplace and review every complaint we receive. We take action when we find violations — including termination of employment."