Google Accused of Racist Culture in California Lawsuit

A former Google employee filed a lawsuit in California federal court last week, claiming the company systematically discriminated against black workers by steering them to low-level jobs and paid them less than their white counterparts.

The former university programs specialist for Google, said in her complaint that she and other Black employees are “pigeon-holed into dead-end jobs” and offered “less visibility, lower pay and no advancement opportunities.”

She filed her lawsuit as a proposed class action seeking to represent other Black individuals who worked for the company in the U.S., as she alleged Google's "racially biased corporate culture and discriminatory practices" have a wide reach.

"Pursuant to its strong, racially biased corporate culture, Google is engaged in a pattern and practice of race discrimination against its African American and Black employees," Curley said. "Google's centralized leadership, which is nearly devoid of Black representation, holds biased and stereotypical views about the abilities and potential of Black professionals."

On top of being undervalued professionally, Black employees are harassed for the color of their skin, Curley said. According to her complaint, Black workers at Google's main California headquarters "were routinely harassed and targeted based on their race, often being questioned by security or asked to show identification."

She also said Black Google workers at large face micro-aggressions and harassment daily, including "being asked to serve their white colleagues or treated as outsiders who did not belong, other than in a service or administrative capacity."

Curley said she was hired by Google in 2014 to work as a university programs specialist and expand its outreach to Black college students, but discovered she was only "window dressing."

"Google expected Curley and her Black colleagues to execute the majority-white management's marketing-focused Black recruitment strategies and never raise any concerns while doing so," she said.

Curley said she spoke up frequently about the mistreatment – which was the

After she took on a leadership role in an internal advocacy group in mid-2020 seeking to improve Google's treatment of Black workers, Curley said her supervisors put her on a performance improvement plan and ultimately fired her.

One of Curley's attorneys, prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, said in a news release that Curley was "an exceptional employee at Google," but was "hired to a position well below her qualifications and was consistently and wrongfully passed over for promotions."

"While Google claims that they were looking to increase diversity, they were actually undervaluing, underpaying and mistreating their Black employees, leading to a high turnover," Crump said. "We will not stop until we get justice for Curley and other Black employees at Google, and until we see real change in this company's culture."

Curley's complaint and Crump's release noted that Google is reportedly under investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for its treatment of Black female employees. The agency declined to comment.

Curley's legal team has also planned a news conference Monday, where they said Black former Google employees will share their experiences, according to the release.

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