Ex-Google engineer files complaint over firing

SAN FRANCISCO — James Damore, the Google engineer who penned an anti-diversity manifesto that has shaken Silicon Valley, has filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint against the company over his firing.

According to documents listed on the website of the NLRB, a complaint against Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, was filed with the federal agency on Tuesday.

The notice on the agency’s website includes a charge against Google, though the substance of the charge was not publicly available.

While it’s impossible to know exactly what Damore is alleging, in general these types of filings tend to involve claims that the former employee was engaged in what’s known as “concerted protected activity” under the National Labor Relations Act, said Jason Geller, a partner with management-side employement law firm Fisher and Phillips in San Francisco.

This would involve employees getting together to discuss and potentially protest, either in person or electronically, alleged poor working conditions.

“If they’re complaining or coming together to try to make a change in their working conditions, that can be considered a protective activity,” said Geller.

Damore could also initiate a separate proceeding either with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and thereafter a potential claim in court for alleged retaliation or discrimination under state or federal discrimination laws.

All of these proceedings are likely to take a long time. “In the court system, unless the matter is settled early or dismissed by the courts, it could take a year and a half or two years before it gets to trial,” Geller said.

Damore posted a 10-page memo that sparked the uproar on an internal company discussion board last week. It criticized Google’s diversity efforts and focus.

By Friday, word of the memo had begun to leak outside the company and on Saturday it was posted online in its entirety, igniting a firestorm of controversy.

The “manifesto,” as many have called it, listed multiple reasons why the author believed Google’s efforts to increase the number of women in technical fields was unworkable, in part because he claimed that women are more interested in people than ideas.

According to the LinkedIn page of the memo’s author, Damore had been a software engineer at Google for nearly four years. He began as a software engineer there in December 2013. He also held one of Google's coveted intern positions the summer before.

In his LinkedIn profile, Damore says he received a bachelor of science degree in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which the university confirmed.

His profile page also stated he had a Ph.D. from Harvard University in systems biology, a discipline which involves the computational and mathematical modeling of complex biological systems.

However when contacted by USA TODAY, Harvard said that Damore had only completed a master’s degree in systems biology, in 2013.

© 2017 USA TODAY


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