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In the latest twist in the debate around diversity and discrimination at Google, Tim Chevalier, a reliability engineer who worked for Google, told USA Today he was fired for standing up to prejudice within the company.
Papers filed at San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday claim that the engineer was sacked for ‘political statements in opposition to the discrimination, harassment, and white supremacy he saw being expressed on Google’s internal messaging systems’.
Chevalier, who is a queer disabled trans man, claims he was sacked in November 2017 for standing up for LGBT people, women, and people of colour on Google’s own employee message boards. For instance, in May 2016, a number of employees were allegedly discussing a lack of diversity in the company, and whether that meant Black and Latino applicants were therefore ‘not as good’ as their white peers.
Chevalier claims he challenged this attitude, writing, ‘In a culture where it’s common to respond to diversity initiatives with “we can’t lower the bar,” implying a baseline assumption that women, non-binary people, and men of color are incompetent, it’s equally important that we don’t do the reverse: that we don’t insist on white male competence even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.’
Chevalier’s claim stands in contrast to that of maligned ‘gender essentialist’ James Damore, however, who conversely claims his own sacking was due to the politically charged comments he made about women in a memo circulated through the company. According to that memo, which was leaked to the press, Damore apparently claimed Google’s policy of positive discrimination in recruitment was ill-conceived, citing what he claimed were the essential biological differences between men and women. The result was that Damore filed a lawsuit claiming the company discriminates against white, conservative men in January.