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45 Google Employees Explain How They Were Retaliated Against for Reporting Abuse

A leaked document highlights stories of abuse and retaliation against Google employees, told by the employees themselves.

by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
Sep 23 2019, 7:59pm

Image: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sexual harassment, gaslighting, broken promises of promotion, gender-based discrimination, and racism.

Motherboard has obtained a document written by 45 different Google employees alleging they've experienced of all the above. The document lays bare how working at Google—a company whose motto was once “don’t be evil”—has become really hard for a lot of people.

The document is a collection of stories submitted by Googlers as part of an internal campaign to highlight cases of retaliation. The stories in the document were collected after the organizers of the Google Walkout, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, published an open letter about being retaliated against after speaking out, according to a current Google employee.

Recode revealed the existence of the document at the beginning of September, but didn’t publish it in full. Motherboard has obtained a version of it dated May 8, 2019.

Three current Google employees, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the press, confirmed that the document obtained by Motherboard is the same one revealed by Recode. Motherboard has not been able to confirm the allegations contained in the document, which has been circulating within the company.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

“I identify as a LatinX female and I experienced blatant racist and sexist things from my coworker. I reported it up to where my manager knew, my director knew, the coworker’s manager knew and our HR representative knew. Nothing happened. I was warned that things will get very serious if continued,” one Googler wrote. “I definitely felt the theme of 'protect the man' as we so often hear about. No one protected me, the victim. I thought Google was different.”

You can read the full document here. Below are just some of the quotes shared by Google employees in the document. Each story goes under a heading. Some examples include: “Punished for reporting sexual jokes”; “Fearful of physical retaliation,” “My 10+ years of experience and trajectory was sabotaged for reporting unethical behavior,” “I reported my abuser and found I wasn’t the first one,” and “Ethics & Compliance aren’t always so ethical.”

These stories come after more than a year in which several hundred Google employees and former employees have spoken out against the company, alleging sexual harassment, retaliation, and other kinds of discrimination. Last year, thousands of Googlers walked out to protest the company's payouts to executives accused of sexual misconduct. Despite promises to do better, employees keep coming out with stories of discrimination and retaliation.

“There have been numerous complaints about my manager from women, but there has never been consequences for him and people continue to suffer under him,” another employee wrote.

Do you work or have you worked at Google, or another tech company? We'd love to hear from you about workplace culture. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzofb@vice.com

Another Googler wrote: “I was greatly disillusioned with Google after joining the company, the blatant misogyny, vindictive managers and the gaslighting, everything I assumed I would be safe from, I have encountered my first year. In a way I am finally relieved to be part of Google, even if it is by sharing the same experience as the undercurrent.”

“I whistle blew a colleague who used the N-word in jokes. HR found nothing conclusive,” wrote another Googler.

An employee wrote: “I was repeatedly harassed and discriminated against by my skip level manager for several years, starting from the first weeks on the team,” wrote another Google employee. “I have evidence that I am not the only person on the team who feels this way. But no one feels safe enough to speak up.”

“I witnessed first hand (and was told second-hand) of several situations where women were being belittled, insulted and ignored. As the person with the second-longest tenure on the team, I suggested in a few 1:1s that my manager confront some of these issues,” wrote another Googler. “Because of my advocacy I was removed from my tech lead position and moved to another team along with the only woman left under my then-manager.”

Another Google employee wrote that “when I was sexually harassed on my former team by my [team lead] I quickly reported it to my manager. I was told I was ‘overreacting’ and that I should just ‘get over it.’”

“The system is NOT working for new Googlers and people in the lowest ranks. Aggressors get second chances, managers are not held responsible, victims get their time and effort wasted, their pain and anger dismissed,” another Google employee wrote. “There is no apology, no accountability. No free food can pay for that.”

“It’s been infuriating to watch Google make statements about the alleged things the company does to fight and prevent discrimination and retaliation,” a former Googler who asked to remain anonymous told Motherboard. “The truth is that the common practice is to sweep those behaviors under the rug and to push victims and those who report inappropriate behavior out of the company.”

This document comes after former Google employees wrote two different memos about getting discriminated and retaliated against for being black, and for being pregnant, respectively.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.