A lawsuit filed on Friday accuses Google of systemic racial bias against Black employees, saying the company steers them to lower-level jobs, pays them less and denies them opportunities to advance because of their race.
According to a complaint seeking class-action status, Google maintains a “racially biased corporate culture” that favors white men, where Black people comprise only 4.4% of employees and about 3% of leadership and its technology workforce.
The plaintiff, April Curley, also said the Alphabet Inc unit subjected Black employees to a hostile work environment, including by often requiring they show identification or be questioned by security at its Mountain View, California, campus.
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The complaint was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California.
It came after that state’s civil rights regulator, the department of fair employment and housing, began investigating Google’s treatment of Black female workers and possible discrimination in their workplace.
Curley said Google had hired her in 2014 to design an outreach program to historically Black colleges.
She said her hiring had proved to be a “marketing ploy”, as supervisors began denigrating her work, stereotyping her as an “angry” Black woman and passing her over for promotions.
Curley said Google had fired her in September 2020 after she and her colleagues began working on a list of desired reforms.
Curley is not the first Black employee to accuse Google of discrimination or who has shared experiences of discrimination at the company. Lesley Miley, a former engineering director at the company, has said he has been physically stopped by co-workers as he was entering a Google office on two occasions despite wearing his employee badge as is required. Miley and others said they had told higher-ups and executives about the issues with deputizing employees to police who does and does not belong in Google offices.
Many Black and Latino people still feel excluded from the tech industry as a whole, attributing that to both a lack of access and internal support.
“While Google claims that they were looking to increase diversity, they were actually undervaluing, underpaying and mistreating their Black employees,” Curley’s lawyer Ben Crump said in a statement.
Crump is a civil rights lawyer who represented the family of George Floyd after he was murdered in May 2020 by the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Curley’s lawsuit seeks to recoup compensatory and punitive damages and lost compensation for current and former Black employees at Google, and to restore them to their appropriate positions and seniority.