A former Google employee’s accusation that the tech giant discriminates against its pregnant workers comes after it has long been accused of efforts to silence pro-life voices.
The pro-life group Live Action said in an analysis on Tuesday that Google “doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being pro-life.”
“Google has shown a clear bias against pregnancy centers; originally categorized the pro-life film 'Unplanned' as ‘propaganda;’ ditched an artificial intelligence advisory council after a conservative, pro-life black female leader was included on it; and has, via YouTube, suppressed Live Action’s pro-life message,” Live Action said.
In January, Google-owned YouTube removed an undercover video by Live Action that exposed a Planned Parenthood employee advising sex traffickers on where to take underage girls for abortions and to lie about their ages. YouTube initially said the video violated its “community guidelines” but reinstated the video and apologized to the group following public outcry.
In a six-page memo written by a former Google employee and posted to an internal company message board last week, titled, "I'm Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why," the unnamed ex-employee describes an alleged incident of discrimination toward another employee who was a working mother and pregnant. She also details the retaliation she says she faced from her bosses after she also became pregnant, and expressed her disappointment with human resources, which she accused of failing to take action in her case.
“I stood up for a mother on my team and doing so sent me down a path that destroyed my career trajectory at Google,” the ex-Google employee says in the memo that was first reported by Motherboard on Monday and has since been widely distributed.
She explains that she worked for the company for four years, received excellent reviews, and was on track for another promotion before her troubles with managers began.
Following a promotion, she said her manager made “inappropriate comments about a member of my team, including that the Googler was likely pregnant again and was overly emotional and hard to work with when pregnant.”
After that incident, she, too, became pregnant. It was a high-risk pregnancy in which her condition “was life-threatening to both me and my daughter,” she said. That meant she was no longer able to travel for the company because she needed to be near her doctors and hospital.
“During one conversation with my new manager in which I reiterated an early leave and upcoming bedrest, she told me that she had just listened to an NPR segment that debunked the benefits of bedrest. She also shared that her doctor had ordered her to take bedrest, but that she ignored the order and worked up until the day before she delivered her son via cesarean section. My manager then emphasized in this same meeting that a management role was no longer guaranteed upon my return from maternity leave, and that she supported my interviewing for other roles at Google.”
In the memo she stressed that before her pregnancy, she had a strong performance record that included “two Superb ratings and several Strongly Exceeds,” as well as a promotion to a managerial position. But four months into her maternity leave she found that her last performance rating or “calibration score” was listed as “Needs Improvement.”
In response to media inquiries about the alleged discrimination cited in the memo, Google said in a statement to Motherboard: “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation.”
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, told The Christian Post that when she first became pregnant, she feared not being ready for motherhood and being left behind in the workforce.
“Psalm 127:3 tells us ‘children are a gift and reward from God’; yet much of society tells women the opposite,” Nance said. “As a professional woman and mom, I too experienced the fear of not being ready for motherhood and the fear of being left behind in the workforce when I became pregnant with my first child. Women are far more capable of parenting than we often realize. Our bodies prepare us for childbirth, and God in His grace gives us an overabundance of love just when we need it for our children. It’s supernatural and inexplicable.
“Many women who have delayed motherhood for a career or foregone motherhood altogether have expressed regret for trading the children they never had for the career that doesn’t fulfill them,” Nance added. “Society should support and value women enough to recognize that motherhood is a natural and important season for most of us. Women in the workforce must support one another. Workplaces that tout diversity and inclusion should apply that idea to parenthood as well. Motherhood is not easy, but it has indeed been the most rewarding experience of my life.”
Northern California’s Silicon Valley, where tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are headquartered, includes counties that are among the top 25 richest metro areas in the United States.
These areas “facilitate the worship of work,” says John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris in a Breakpoint op-ed published in The Christian Post on Wednesday. “This is the sort of environment in which only the young and childless can thrive.”
“Companies that set up shop in these major downtown areas increasingly demand a set of life choices that [The Atlantic’s Derek] Thompson dubs ‘workism’—delaying marriage and family in favor of intense, high-paying jobs that go largely to support adult-centric lifestyles. In other words, we’re ‘swapping capital for kids,’” Stonestreet and Morris note of Thompson’s article, “The Future of the City Is Childless.”
In a poll that surveyed tech workers worldwide, with an emphasis on employees living in the Bay Area and Seattle, Washington, a majority said they had delayed having children due to the rising cost of housing, The Mercury News reported in September 2018.
“Apple had the largest portion of employees who said they had been forced to delay starting a family — 69 percent of employees surveyed. That compares to 64 percent of Uber employees, 63 percent of Google employees, 59 percent of Lyft employees, 53 percent of Facebook employees and 51 percent of Salesforce employees,” The Mercury News said of the poll conducted by Blind, an online social network that allows workers to share their anonymous opinions about their employers.
A study conducted by The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in 2014 showed that working parents of two or more children are more productive in the workplace than their childless colleagues.
The study “found that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage of the game. In fact, mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all,” The Washington Post reported in 2014. The same study also found that the work performance of fathers of one child is nearly the same as their childless colleagues. But fathers of two or more children outperformed their peers. It also found that men and women face employment discrimination at different stages in their lives.
Along with being accused of discriminating against mothers and pregnant women, Google has also been accused of discriminating against Christians and conservatives.
One lawsuit filed against Google alleges that while the company caters to a wide-range of alternative lifestyles — with at least one employee self-identifying as a dragon — it’s hostile toward white, male conservatives.
James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired from the company in 2017 for a leaked memo filed a lawsuit with fellow former Google employee David Gudeman in 2018 that includes screengrabs of presentations and messages within the company indicating a workplace environment that was open to polygamy and polyamory while being hostile to conservative views.
On Monday, fired Google engineer Kevin Cernekee told Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson that the company’s bias is evident in its employees' actions.
"You can see bias at every level of the organization," Cernekee told Carlson. "One thing that I've noticed is that just handling of routine issues is plagued with bias, like they will get a report, an e-mail from a liberal reporter complaining about something and they will jump on it and they will fix the issue very, very quickly. … They made every excuse in the book to avoid taking down something that made Donald Trump look bad,” he added.
Cernekee’s accusation comes after Google owned YouTube was recently accused of censoring the word “Christian” from an ad by a nonprofit organization that helps military veterans suffering from PTSD.
Mike Berry, chief of staff for First Liberty Institute, a law firm that represents the founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, said: “Censorship of religious viewpoints by social media giants like YouTube has become far too common and simply can’t be tolerated. Concerns over big tech companies violating the spirit of the American principle of free expression continue to grow. We are investigating this incident to determine what legal action might be appropriate.”