Lawsuit: Google Hiring Practices Discriminated Against Whites, Asians

Delia Walker
March 4, 2018

Wilberg said that in 2016 and 2017, he and his fellow recruiters were told on several occasions to approve or dismiss job candidates based exclusively on whether they were women, black or Latino.

People familiar with YouTube's and Google's hiring practices in interviews corroborated some of the lawsuit's allegations, including the hiring freeze of white and Asian technical employees, and YouTube's use of quotas... The paper notes that 69% of Google's employees are men, while 91% of the company's workforce is white or Asian-a number that's stayed relatively the same for the past three years. Thursday, Arne Wilberg, a former technical recruiter in Google's YouTube unit, filed suit, alleging that YouTube illegally used quotas as recently as previous year in an attempt to hire more black, Latinx, and female engineers. The lawsuit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court notes that the management used to delete the emails among other records that talked of the diversity requirements.

Wilberg, who recruited engineers for Google's and YouTube's parent company Alphabet, said he was sacked after complaining to upper management about the discriminatory hiring practices, and alleges that other members of his team were either disregarded, transferred or demoted. In a statement, Google pushes back, saying that although "we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles ... we have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity".

In an email to The Register, a Google spokesperson said the company intends to vigorously defend against these claims.

Arne Wilberg, who worked at Google and its YouTube unit for about nine years both as a contractor and an employee, claims he was terminated in retaliation for complaining to human resources about the company's hiring practices. California labor law prohibits refusing to hire employees based on characteristics like race or gender.

According to the lawsuit, Wilberg's attempt to raise the issue of quotas did not go unnoticed. And he alleges that internal documents known as "weekly recaps" show Google had set hiring targets for women, blacks and Latinos.

One person, referring to the initiative, reportedly "complained that managers were speaking about blacks like they were objects".

A few months back, James Damore, a former Google employee, claimed that he was sacked for writing an anti-diversity memo, which triggered loads of controversy both within and outside the organization. Many have adopted policies and programs created to encourage more balanced hiring, not only to right past discrimination but for their own economic advantage: According to management consultancy McKinsey, diverse companies deliver better financial results. In a way, Google even popularized the idea of transparency around diversity numbers as a defensive tactic against claims about systemic inequality.

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