Google Employee Document Details Harassment, Intimidation

A handful of Google employees have written a document detailing sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation within the search-engine giant. While the existence of this document was previously reported by Recode, Motherboard has posted it in full

Three current Google employees reportedly confirmed to Motherboard that the document is authentic. A Google spokesperson told the publication that the company works “to be extremely transparent about how we handle complains and the action we take.”

Google offered a similar statement to Recode when news of the document’s existence first leaked in September. In late 2018, the company responded to employee protests (and a walkout) over corporate misbehavior by promising to retool its sexual-harassment policies; however, at least one of the stories in the document takes place after the walkout.

Here are some other tales from the document:

“When I was sexually harassed on my former team by my TL I quickly reported it to my manager. I was told I was ‘overreacting’ and that I should just ‘get over it.’ This led me to report the incident to HR, which immediately opened an investigation. Regardless of this investigation, both my TL and my manager were still in charge of handling my performance review.”

And this:

“I once reported frequent verbal harassment on my team to my manager who took no action. When I decided to escalate this to HR my manager then removed me from my leadership position and put me 100% on a project I had repeatedly asked to be removed from. My peers that were responsible for the toxic behavior were moved onto the project they asked for. I had to leave the team.”

In April, Bloomberg reported that “hundreds” of Google staffers had met to discuss retaliation. In this document, retaliation is also a pretty constant theme. Although Google is pushing back against these assertions, it’s clear that a portion of its employees distrust the company’s normal, HR-based channels for handling harassment, intimidation, and other complaints.

Issues related to harassment and intimidation may have helped tumble Google from fifth to eighth place on Glassdoor’s annual list of the best places to work. So far, Google has agreed to some of the demands of the original employee walkout, including an end to forced arbitration in disputes with current and former employees, but it has yet to fulfill others.

“We’re acknowledging and understanding we clearly got some things wrong,” Pichai said in New York Times interview last year. “And we have been running the company very differently for a while now. But going through a process like that, you learn a lot.” The presence of this document, though, shows that at least some employees feel Google hasn’t done enough yet.

2 Responses to “Google Employee Document Details Harassment, Intimidation”

  1. Two quick comments. At Google or any other company, HR works for the company. Not the employee.

    Arbitration is for the company. Not the employee. How many employees or former employees win at an arbitration?

    Don’t forget that when you signed your employee acceptance letter, you agreed to your employer’s arbitration counsel. Not one of your own choosing!

    Also, you agreed to “employment at will!” That means they can “terminate” you at their discretion / pleasure / enjoyment for any reason at all, or no reason.

    And that’s that!!

    • Sad but true!

      That being said, nothing will change if no one has the courage to report. In my humble opinion reporting and not expecting benefit for oneself might help future employees, change policies or culture …. eventually!