Republican activist takes on class-action suit against Google

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, right, and her husband, Sarv Randhawa, left, with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. Dhillon is leading charge in a class-action suit against Google. 

Leading the charge in a class-action lawsuit against Google, the tech giant headed by Sundar Pichai, is another prominent Indian-American: California attorney Harmeet Dhillon, a conservative once considered for a Justice Dept. post in the Trump administration. The lawsuit charges the company with gender and racial discrimination and was filed on Jan. 8 by fired engineer James Damore. Damore claims that Google’s efforts to increase gender and racial diversity in its workforce excludes whites, males and conservatives.

Damore was fired in August after posting a controversial memo to an internal message board titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber."

The lawsuit also charges that Google employees with conservative views are shamed, blacklisted and denied opportunities because they deviate from Google’s liberal orthodoxy. The complaint included 86 pages of screenshots from internal Google discussion forums, presented as evidence of alleged “anti-conservative” and “anti-Caucasian” bias.

At a Jan. 8 press conference in San Francisco, Dhillon said she believed that white male conservatives are treated unfairly in Silicon Valley. A videotape of the press conference was posted on the website of Dhillon’s law firm, Dhillon Law Group.

She asked conservatives, who may have been denied a job at Google based on their beliefs, to get in touch with her law firm. “People should not have to prove that they didn’t vote for the president to get a job at Google,” she said. According to her, dozens of people have contacted her firm to express interest in joining the class.

Noting that she herself is an immigrant and a woman, Dhillon said it was a legitimate goal for Google to try to have its workforce reflect the diversity of the country and its customers. But she said Google violated the law when it allegedly created quotas for hiring women and underrepresented minorities.

Instead, she said Google should try job fairs or making the company more welcoming to women.

According to a statement on her law firm’s website, the lawsuit isn’t “just a white man’s lawsuit as some in the media wrongfully” put it, she said. “This is what we’re looking for the equal application of the discrimination laws in the United States and California.”

Dhillon, the Republican National Committee’s Committeewoman from California, said at the press conference that people shouldn’t face discrimination based on their political beliefs.

“We have endless lawsuits already. When you read the complaints, 160 pages of very detailed allegations of Google’s practice, they openly shame groups that have too many white men. For example, there is a weekly all-hands meeting where two female executives led a program to call out different business units at Google and if that business unit had equal men and women, they would be applauded, and if they didn’t have equal men and women they were booed,” she said.

Dhillon said Google can move to dismiss or they can move to deny classification. “I’m sure they will fight the lawsuit pretty hard because the stakes are high for Google and other tech companies in Silicon Valley. It’s a common practice.”

In a statement to WIRED, a Google spokesperson said, “We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore's lawsuit in court.” According to the Los Angeles Times, a second former Google engineer, David Gudeman, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

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