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A former engineer who wrote a sexist manifesto disparaging Google's efforts to close the gender gap is now suing, claiming the search giant discriminates against conservative white men.
James Damore's controversial 10-page memo, posted to an internal Google message board in August, posited that women are underrepresented in tech because of "personality differences" between the sexes — not because of any workplace discrimination they may experience.
The memo, which cited women's "neuroticism" as a reason there are fewer female workers in high-stress jobs, was published the following day by the tech website Gizmodo and went viral. Damore was quickly fired.
In a class action lawsuit against Google filed Monday in Santa Clara Superior Court in Northern California, Damore and another former Google engineer, David Gudeman, argue that Google has an "open hostility for conservative thought."
"Google’s open hostility for conservative thought is paired with invidious discrimination on the basis of race and gender, barred by law," says the lawsuit, filed by Dhillon Law Group.
"Google’s management goes to extreme — and illegal — lengths to encourage hiring managers to take protected categories such as race and/or gender into consideration as determinative hiring factors, to the detriment of Caucasian and male employees and potential employees at Google," it says.
The suit goes on to accuse Google of employing "illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates," and claims managers who fail to meet these quotas are openly shamed.
The suit is an extension of Damore's notorious memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" (a phrase that appears in the lawsuit as well), which accused Google of muting opinions about diversity to protect "psychological safety."
In a news conference with his attorney on Monday, Damore said Google employees "felt like they couldn't talk about anything."
"We were sort of brainwashed to believe that this was the natural course of things," he said.
He said he felt his lawsuit would "really help make Google a truly inclusive place."
"This lawsuit is really meant to help everyone, both at Google, and people affected by Google's products, and potential future employees," he said.
When asked if he would want to be reinstated at Google, Damore said he would welcome the chance to return and felt he could help improve the culture there.
When asked for a comment, a Google spokesperson would only say, "We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore's lawsuit in court."
Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit filed by three women a month after Damore posted his document alleges that Google pays women less than men for similar work and gives them less opportunity for promotions, bonuses, and raises. Google denied those claims to NBC News.