Google’s ‘bro-culture’ meant routine sexual harassment of women, suit says

The Guardian

February 28, 2018

By Julia Carrie Wong

Former employee alleges she was subject to ‘lewd comments, pranks and even physical violence’ on daily basis

Google has a “bro-culture” that allowed the daily sexual harassment of a female software engineer, a new lawsuit from a former employee alleges.

Loretta Lee, who worked for Google from 2008 to 2016, filed suit this month against the Silicon Valley giant for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and wrongful termination in California state court.

In the complaint, which was first published by Gizmodo, Lee alleges that she was subject to “lewd comments, pranks and even physical violence” on a daily basis, including having male colleagues spike her drinks with alcohol, shoot Nerf balls at her, send her sexually suggestive messages and, in one case, slap her in the face.

Lee was especially disturbed by an incident when she found a male co-worker on all fours beneath her desk and “believed he may have installed some type of camera or similar device under her desk”, the complaint states. The suit alleges that Google’s treatment of Lee was “consistent with a pattern and practice of ignoring sexual harassment in the workplace, making no significant efforts to take corrective action, and punishing the victim”.

“We have strong policies against harassment in the workplace and review every complaint we receive,” said Ty Sheppard, a Google spokesman, in a statement. “We take action when we find violations – including termination of employment.”

Lee’s is the latest in a string of lawsuits that have targeted the company over workplace issues involving harassment, speech and diversity over the past year, and especially since an internal controversy over James Damore’s controversial memo about gender burst into the open in August.

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