You’ve heard of those mega-corporate monsters that are “too big to fail.”
Could it be there are now some companies too big, powerful and wealthy to be accountable?
The thought comes to mind after following the recent wrongful termination lawsuit against Google for, frankly, clear breaches of California and federal law against the following – sex discrimination, race discrimination and discrimination against people based on their conscience and political views.
Google fired James Damore for writing a memo that suggested the company was alienating conservatives at its massive corporate facility in San Francisco.
The lawsuit suggests much worse than that:
- Google punished, ostracized, belittled and threatened employees for their political views;
- Google managers developed “blacklists” of conservative employees with whom they refused to work on projects;
- Google employees victimized because of their skin color;
- Google employees punished for their sex.
Damore, just one of those former employees filing the action, said the reason Google gave him for termination was “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”
“When I asked for more details, they wouldn’t give me any,” he said.
Google is always promoting “diversity” and “inclusion,” but that’s exactly what Damore’s memo reinforced – greater diversity and greater inclusion. He recognized how those buzzwords are actually used to do the opposite of what they promote.
For instance, the complaint alleges Google “employs illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their quotas – in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others.”
Damore and others said not only “was the numerical presence of women celebrated at Google solely due to their gender, but the presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during company-wide weekly meetings.”
“This is the essence of discrimination – Google formed opinions about and then treated Plaintiffs not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in groups with assumed characteristics.”
The complaint also names three managers who “publicly endorsed blacklisting conservatives and actively preventing them from seeking employment opportunities at Google.”
One manager stated in reference to conservatives, whom he categorized as “hostile voices”: “I will never, ever hire/transfer you onto my team. Ever. I don’t care if you are perfect fit or technically excellent or whatever. I will actively not work with you, even to the point where your team or product is impacted by this decision. I’ll communicate why to your manager if it comes up.”
The complaint says other Google employees also suggested terminating employees with conservative values that did not comport with their own.
“One even suggested firing an employee twice simply to get the point across – conservatives were not welcome at Google,” the lawsuit alleges.
Google is now one of the largest companies in the U.S., and, for that matter, the world. Its profits are obscene. It’s impossible to go on the Internet without supporting Google’s revenues in some way. And it has been getting away with this kind of systematic, institutional abuse for too long.
But who is going to hold Google accountable?
Will there be justice in a California courtroom? Will a judgment actually make Google faithful to both the letter and spirit of the law? How big would a judgment have to be for Google to feel the pain and give the company’s management something to think about?
It’s worth noting that Google once had a motto: “Don’t be evil.”
The company got rid of it when the current chief executive officer reportedly suggested to Google’s founders that it was OK to be “a little bit evil.”
This is more than a little bit evil. And it’s a lot illegal.
And Google is certainly too big not to be accountable – to the law, to decency and to basic morality.