March 18, 2022
By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – A lawsuit filed on Friday accuses Google of systemic racial bias against Black employees, saying the search engine company steers them to lower-level jobs, pays them less and denies them opportunities to advance because of their race.
According to a complaint seeking class-action status, Google maintains a “racially biased corporate culture” that favors white men, where Black people comprise only 4.4% of employees and about 3% of leadership and its technology workforce.
The plaintiff, April Curley, also said the Alphabet Inc unit subjected Blacks to a hostile work environment, including by often requiring they show identification or be questioned by security at its Mountain View, California campus.
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The complaint was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California.
It came after that state’s civil rights regulator, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, began investigating Google’s treatment of Black female workers and possible discrimination in their workplace.
Curley said Google hired her in 2014 to design an outreach program to historically Black colleges.
She said her hiring proved to be a “marketing ploy,” as supervisors began denigrating her work, stereotyping her as an “angry” Black woman and passing her over for promotions.
Curley said Google fired her in September 2020 after she and her colleagues began working on a list of desired reforms.
“While Google claims that they were looking to increase diversity, they were actually undervaluing, underpaying and mistreating their Black employees,” Curley’s lawyer Ben Crump said in a statement.
Crump is a civil rights lawyer who also represented the family of George Floyd after he was killed in May 2020 by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Curley’s lawsuit seeks to recoup 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.
The case is Curley v Google LLC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-01735.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)