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A former recruiter for Google is suing the tech company alleging it used discriminatory hiring practices that put whites and Asians at a disadvantage to other groups — and that it fired him after he complained about it.
Arne Wilberg, who filed the lawsuit in late January in California Superior Court in San Mateo County, claims that Google carried out policies for the past several years “reflected in multiple bulletins, memorandum, charts and other documents” that favored Hispanic, African-American and female job applicants and were against white and Asian men, according to his lawsuit.
Wilberg, who recruited candidates for engineering and technology positions for YouTube and parent company Google, also alleges in the suit that for several quarters Google would not make employment offers for technical positions to applicants “who were not ‘diverse,’" which the lawsuit alleges Google defined as women, black and Latino.
The lawsuit said Wilberg complained about this to his managers and HR. He was fired in November for, among other things, “not meeting goals” and “talking too much in meetings,” reasons that the lawsuit called “pretextual.”
“Plaintiff was an exemplary employee and received positive performance evaluations until he began opposing illegal hiring and recruiting practices at Google,” the complaint asserts.
In an email, a Google spokesperson 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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
The lawsuit asserts that Google carefully tracked each applicant’s race and gender in its technology workforce, allegedly using this information to decide whom to extend offers of employment to and whom to reject.
In one instance in April 2017, Google’s Technology Staffing Management team was allegedly told to immediately cancel all interviews for software engineering applicants with zero to five years of experience who were not female, black or Hispanic, court records said.
The team was also allegedly instructed to “purge entirely any applications by non-diverse employees from the hiring pipeline,” a request with which Wilberg said in his lawsuit he did not comply.
Before that in January 2016, Wilberg said he had reached out via instant message to the staffing director, asking for a meeting about YouTube hiring practices, according to his lawsuit.
The suit said he told the staffing director that many employees on the hiring team felt uncomfortable with YouTube’s “Diversity Hiring Practices,” believing that they were discriminatory.
“Wilberg described another recruiter’s feedback around this ‘diversity’ hiring program where the other recruiter told other recruiters that she felt the way the team talked about black people in team meetings was like we were talking about black slaves as slave traders on a ship,” the lawsuit asserts.
Wilberg’s suit alleges discrimination in violation of California government code and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation. It also claims he was terminated and treated differently because of his race.
The suit asks, among other things, for unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, as well as a temporary and permanent injunction “prohibiting Defendants from implementing, using, distributing, and training its employees to use their discriminatory profiling.”
Wilberg’s lawsuit follows another one filed in early January in California state court by a former engineer who wrote a sexist manifesto disparaging Google’s efforts to close the gender gap and who was subsequently fired.
In it, James Damore and another former Google engineer, David Gudeman, argued that Google has an "open hostility for conservative thought."
At the time the suit was filed, a Google spokesperson said, "We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore's lawsuit in court."
Google also faces a lawsuit, filed in September, that accuses it of gender-based pay discrimination against women. At the time that suit was filed, a company spokesperson told The Associated Press that they will review the suit, but "we disagree with the central allegations." A hearing in that case is scheduled for the end of March.