Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has filed a racial discrimination class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of former employees of the search engine giant.
The lawsuit, filed on March 18, accuses Google of systemic bias against Black employees.
Former Black Google employees claim the Alphabet Inc.-owned company steered them to lower-level jobs, paid them less, and denied them advancement opportunities because of their race, NBC News reported.
The main plaintiff, April Curley, said Google constantly subjected her and other Black workers to a hostile work environment.
Google hired Curley in 2014 to design an outreach program to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). But she said she later discovered her hiring was just a “marketing ploy” after supervisors began diminishing her work, stereotyping her as an “angry” Black woman, and passing her over for promotions.
Curley was fired in September 2020 after she and her colleagues started to develop a list of suggested reforms for the company.
In 2021, Google came under fire after a report was published about problems with its HBCU recruitment pipeline program. Launched in 2017, Google’s Howard West program was supposed to help introduce students from HBCUs into the company’s work culture to improve their chances of recruitment. While the program offered up to 30 Black students a summer internship annually, it did not promise the recruits a job following their internships. There were complaints by some participants and HBCU faculty about how the program was organized.
“Google allocated resources so disparagingly because of how they tiered — and thought of — our schools,” Curley told The Washington Post in March 2021.
According to the lawsuit, Google has a “racially biased corporate culture” that favors white men. The lawsuit also states that Black people comprise just 4.4 percent of employees and about 3 percent of leadership and its technology workforce. The complaint, filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, is seeking class-action status from the court.
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Curley’s lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages and lost compensation for current and former Black employees at Google and to restore them to their appropriate positions and seniority, Reuters reported.
“While Google claims that they were looking to increase diversity, they were actually undervaluing, underpaying, and mistreating their Black employees,” Curley’s lawyer, Crump, said in a statement.
The lawsuit comes at a time when California’s civil rights regulator, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, is investigating Google’s treatment of Black female workers and possible discrimination in the workplace.
Crump came to national attention representing the family of George Floyd after he was murderered by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020. Crump also represents the families of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by two white men in February 2020 while jogging in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American woman who was fatally shot on March 13, 2020, when police entered her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment on a no-knock warrant.
Photo: April Curley, LinkedIn. Photo: Google offices in Midtown NYC, (zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 8/14/20