Lawsuit: Google’s ‘Bro Culture’ Led to Sexual Harassment Against Female Engineer

Currently some 69% of Google's employees are men, according to the company's latest figures, a proportion that rises to 80% when it comes to technology jobs
AFP

A new lawsuit brought against Google alleges that the company’s office “bro culture” led to sexual harassment against a female engineer.

SiliconValley.com reports that former Google engineer Loretta Lee alleges that she was sexually harassed at the company on multiple occasions. Lee claims that she was slapped, groped and had a coworker hide under her desk, popping his head up to tell her that she would never know what he was doing under there.

Lee’s lawsuit against Google is the latest in a line of litigation against the company relating to firings. James Damore is suing the company after he was fired over his viewpoint diversity memo arguing that there was a biological difference between men and women that explained the gender gap in the tech field. Tim Chevalier, a Google employee who called for violence against Damore and conservatives, has also filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that he was fired for “opposing bigotry.”

Lee’s lawsuit, which was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, alleges that “Google’s bro-culture contributed to (Lee’s) suffering frequent sexual harassment and gender discrimination, for which Google failed to take corrective action.” Lee claims that she received “severe and pervasive” sexual harassment on a daily basis which included lewd comments, ogling her “constantly,” one of her male colleagues spiking her drink with whiskey and laughing, and shooting her with nerf darts and balls “almost every day.” The suit states that one of her colleagues also texted her asking if she wanted a “horizontal hug,” and that another colleague once showed up at her apartment offering to fix a tech problem she had — the colleague brought a bottle of liquor and refused to leave when asked.

The suit states that Lee started at Google in Los Angeles in 2008 before moving to the Mountain View offices, and “was considered a talented and rising star.” The suit states that Lee consistently received “excellent” performance reviews but was let go from the company in February 2016 for “poor performance.” Lee’s lawsuit alleges a number of cases of harassment — allegedly Lee “was slapped in the face by an intoxicated male co-worker for no apparent reason,” and in January 2016 while working late, Lee saw a colleague she had never met “on all fours, underneath her desk,” when the man realized she had seen him he jumped out from under the desk shouting “‘You’ll never know what I was doing!’” the lawsuit alleges. “She was frightened by his comment and believed he may have installed some type of camera or similar device under her desk,” states the lawsuit.

A day later, another colleague grabbed the name badge hanging from a lanyard around her neck and asked her name, grazing her breasts with his hand in the process. After learning of the incident, Lee’s superior and Google’s Human Resources department attempted to convince her to officially report the incident but Lee refused to do so out of fear of being classed as an “informant” by other members of staff. The HR department then allegedly wrote Lee up for failure to cooperate, but after Lee finally relented and reported the incident, HR found the claims “unsubstantiated.” The suit said that “this emboldened her colleagues to continue their inappropriate behavior.”

Lee claims that her fears of being labeled an informer and ostracized by her colleagues was very real and resulted in code that she had worked on not being approved by her superiors. This allegedly resulted in Lee being “labeled as a ‘poor performer,’” which eventually led to her firing from the company. Lee also claims that Google failed to adequately accommodate her after a car crash which resulted in a disabling back injury, Lee claims that the company told her she must seek treatment for the injury on her own time. Lee’s case is seeking $25,000 from Google for harassment, gender discrimination, failure to prevent sexual harassment, disability discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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