The critics of Google’s (GOOG) effort to promote workforce diversity now include one of its own former recruiters, who claims in a lawsuit he was fired because he didn’t toe the line on rejecting white and Asian male job candidates.
The Alphabet unit had “irrefutable policies, memorialized in writing and consistently implemented in practice, of systematically discriminating in favor job applicants who are Hispanic, African American, or female, and against Caucasian and Asian men,” according to the complaint filed in state court in Redwood City, California.
Arne Wilberg, who worked at Google and its YouTube unit for about nine years both as a contractor and an employee, claims he was terminated in retaliation for complaining to human resources about the company’s hiring practices. Wilberg also alleged that late last year, management deleted emails and other digital records of diversity requirements.
A Google spokeswoman said the company will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.
“We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity,” Gina Scigliano said in an email. “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.”
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Google has faced criticism over its diversity practices from both sides: those who say it’s not doing enough to include women and underrepresented racial minorities, and those who assert that its efforts go too far. Google and many other technology giants started publicly sharing data on racial and gender diversity in 2014 and have faced pressure to increase the percentage of their workforce that isn’t white or Asian men.
Wilberg said that in 2016 and 2017, he and his fellow recruiters were told on several occasions to approve or dismiss job candidates based solely on whether they were women, black or Latino. In March 2017, a YouTube staffing manager emailed recruiters and told them, “Please continue with L3 [level three] candidates in process and only accept new L3 candidates that are from historically underrepresented groups.” In another email, the same manager wrote, “We should only consider L3s from our underrepresented groups.”
The case is Wilberg v. Google 18-CIV-00442, California Superior Court, San Mateo County (Redwood City).