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"Bro culture" cited in Google termination lawsuit

At times, civil litigation may reflect ongoing social issues, such as the sexual harassment exposed by the "Me Too" movement. For example, a wrongful termination lawsuit was recently filed in California against Google, charging that the company permitted a workplace culture that diminished women.

In her labor employment lawsuit, the employee alleged that she was the first female software engineer to obtain a position with the company, performed excellent work, earned positive performance evaluations and won workplace coding competitions. Nonetheless, the plaintiff claimed that a "bro culture" led to sexual harassment involving several lewd comments, inappropriate text messages and pranks over seven years.

In January of 2016, according to the plaintiff, she returned to her desk to find a male co-worker emerge from under desk who said that she would never discover what he was doing under it. She believed that he was installing a camera.

The human resources department repeatedly advised her to file an incident report, but she was concerned that she would be accused of being an informant. After HR deemed her uncooperative, she finally filed a report, which she claimed was never investigated. She was also shunned by her co-workers, according to her charges.

The plaintiff took approved medical leave. After returning to work and resuming her assignments, she asked for additional time off for physical therapy appointments, according to the lawsuit. However, Google rejected her request and subsequently terminated her employment in February of 2016 because of performance issues.

The plaintiff filed her labor lawsuit in February of 2018 after receiving approval by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In her wrongful termination action, she charged that Google permitted a workplace environment that was hostile to female employees and then fired her after she reported that alleged abuse. This workplace atmosphere, which was left uncorrected, allegedly played a role with her suffering sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Google denied these claims and said that it has strict workplace harassment and discrimination policies. The company also stated that every complaint is properly reviewed.

Source: Lawyers and Settlements.com, "Google hit with another California wrongful termination lawsuit," Gordon Gibb, March 5, 2018

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