In late August 2017, Google employee James Damore circulated an ill-advised memo claiming women were biologically weak to lead an engineering team and the company's diversification efforts to hire more women in the aforementioned department was misguided. This apparently sparked off a heated debate among pro and against groups on the Google campus. Taking note of the seriousness of the issue, company management sacked Damore.
Not satisfied with Damore's firing, another Google employee, Tim Chevalier, a self-proclaimed transgender and disabled, took to the company's internal chat-rooms to vent out anger that there are several more Damore-like people still at large spewing venom in the company and Google has failed to control anti-diversity propaganda affecting women, ethnic minorities and LGBTQ communities.
Chevalier, in a bid to send a stern message across to the top management, took an aggressive stance by posting abusive comments and memes, some deemed derogatory in nature on internal chat rooms, against the prevalence of white supremacy, male chauvinism and racial abuse in the company. This apparently did not go down well with the Google management board, Chevalier, a reliability engineer at the company's San Francisco office too got fired in November 2017.
Now, Chevalier has sent out a legal notice to Google for wrongful termination of him, for being a pro-diversity campaigner.
In his complaint, Chevalier has revealed that Google, at time of his joining the company in 2015, consisted of homogenous workforce (technical departments) with 82% male employees and ethnically, it had 59% white, 35% Asians and 6% included Black, Hispanics, Native American, Pacific Islander and other groups.
He also added that the ethnicity percentage of the top leaders in the company too was skewed, consisting 72 % white, 23% Asians and just 5% Black and other aforementioned minority groups.
Even today, the Google, despite claiming to be pro-diversity, the workforce is skewed, Chevalier claims.
Does Google firing Tim Chevalier mean, the company is anti-diversity?
In an age of social media, a small argument on Facebook or Twitter, most often than not gets blown out of proportions, especially when people, having lost all logical reasoning points to argue, resort to bashing ethnicity, gender, body shaming and other personal aspects of the opponent.
Here in Google too, Damore's memo set off an unnecessary debate in the company dividing the people, which led to personal conflicts and caused productivity loss.
Even Facebook faced a similar issue. The company's Menlo Park campus, which houses a huge free expression wall, wherein office employees are allowed to express their opinion with writings on the wall, once led to racial conflict in 2016.
Since 2013 to 2017, there was a series of police encounters in the US, which many termed it as racially toned, sparking off large-scale #BlackLivesMatter campaign both online and on the streets. It had reached its peak in 2016, as activists became involved in the United States presidential election.
At Facebook's office wall, some employees, in a bid to show solidarity to the cause, wrote messages with #BlackLivesMatter. But, some miscreants struck-off those messages and added #AllLivesMatter.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg took objections to the conflict and sent out memo denouncing the act as malicious and said that striking-off #BlackLivesMatter is an act of free-speech suppression. Zuckerberg added that #BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean other lives don't and in actuality, "it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve," Boston Globe quoted Mark Zuckerberg as saying in the official memo to Facebook employees.
Coming back to Google campus conflict, the company firing Tim Chevalier doesn't necessarily mean, it is non-secular or anti-diversity, for that matter. It is a case of maintaining an office decorum or professional ethics. It's every employee's responsibility to restrain themselves, from going overboard in terms of retaliation in the form of physical or online trolling of fellow colleagues.
If got abused by a co-worker or annoyed by his/her obnoxious behavior, there are provisions such as Human Resource departments in Google, Facebook or any other corporate company, who are, by law are obliged to conduct a proper enquiry by team of neutral top-executives or third-party investigation agency or if required, assist you in getting legal help to fight the harassment case.
Instead, taking the conflict personally, by using derogatory language or physical assault, in front of the whole office, is not advisable.
We are not sure if Google reprimanded Chevalier for this aggressive campaign or not, before firing him, but it will reflect well on Google if the company did give him a chance to feel remorse for his actions.
Despite the repeated warning, if Chevalier went ahead with activities, considered to be against the office decorum, he is liable for suspension.
As the phrase goes "desperate times requires desperate measures". Both the parties, the litigant and the defendant, did what they thought was very necessary. Chevalier thought he was right in using extreme campaign methods to highlight the disparity in the company and Google thought the employee's actions were against office decorum and fired him.
It's been only a day since Chevalier filed the lawsuit in San Francisco court and Google is expected to respond in coming days.
Meanwhile, Google has a released press statement to Gizmodo pertaining to the sacking of Tim Chevalier.
"An important part of our culture is lively debate. But like any workplace, that doesn't mean anything goes. All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies, under which promoting harmful stereotypes based on race or gender is prohibited. This is a very standard expectation that most employers have of their employees. The overwhelming majority of our employees communicate in a way that is consistent with our policies. But when an employee does not, it is something we must take seriously. We always make our decision without any regard to the employee's political views," Gina Scigliano, Google Spokesperson said.