back to article Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired for opposing hiring caps on white, Asian male nerds

A former recruiter for Google and YouTube has sued the search ad beast, claiming he was fired for objecting to hiring policies that discriminated against white and Asian men. In a civil lawsuit filed in January in San Mateo Superior Court, plaintiff Arne Wilberg contended that he was an exemplary employee who received positive …

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  1. Nick Kew Silver badge

    This looks the most interesting

    With other ex-googler cases, it's about touchy-feely and subjective things like a hostile workplace environment. This one looks much more like objective discrimination issues: is it happening, and is it legal? Looks like a good one to follow.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: This looks the most interesting

      It is something which is in the recruitment policy of a lot of the large tech companies and not just in the USA.

      So if the court rules it illegal the fallout will be on the "nuclear winter" scale. If the court rules it legal, I would suggest our Silly Valley, M4 corridor, etc colleagues to immigrate somewhere where they still hire on merit like Eastern Europe. Funnily enough they do not seem to have any issues with having a lot of women in STEM either (pretty ones too).

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: This looks the most interesting

        "So if the court rules it illegal the fallout will be on the "nuclear winter" scale. If the court rules it legal, I would suggest our Silly Valley, M4 corridor, etc colleagues to immigrate somewhere where they still hire on merit like Eastern Europe."

        It's nothing to do with England and Wales. English/Welsh law (not sure about Scotland) is unequivocal. This would be illegal here.

  2. Tim99 Silver badge
    Coat

    Don't worry

    It looks as though the problem is fixing itself - In our new efficient and improved workforce we only employ (independent?) contractors.

  3. sisk Silver badge

    It's like I've been saying for years: discrimination is illegal and immoral even when it's aimed at the majority.

    Besides, I still say that the hiring imbalances in Silicon Valley are more a product of the pool of candidates for those types of jobs than any sort of discriminatory hiring practices. It's hardly Google's fault if most folks with degrees in computer science and experience to go along with them have similar skintones and anatomies.

  4. JWLong

    Token Employees, I Love Them All

    Like I've told many an employer, when your token employees get done fuck'n things up, then give me a call to come fix it right.

    By the time the moron in charge calls me, I tell them this will be a contract job@3X$.

    There are dumb white people, black people, brown people, male people, female people. Just stop hiring DUMB people. Is this to difficult to figure out, well it must be because we now hire people because of their sex, race, creed, and color, instead of their qualifications to do a job.

    It's no wonder this country is so handicapped when it comes to competing internationally!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Token Employees, I Love Them All

      Or you can always promote them to management, along with any incompetent white men.

  5. I'm Dugly

    If it wasn't for peeps like me, you wouldn't need diversitee

    I am eternal.

    I am an aging WASP boomer, manager, with a finance MBA. I have never written a line of code beyond "hello world".

    I dorked my large-breasted Asian secretary on my bosses desk, and followed it up by taking her on a business trip and joining the mile-high club on the company's dime. Ask your parents what secretaries were.

    If it wasn't for me, there would be no need for diversity programs, labour lawyers, crisis interventions, and morning-after pills.

    Tremble in my presence.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: If it wasn't for peeps like me, you wouldn't need diversitee

      Ask your parents what secretaries were.

      Some of us are old enough to remember (put some joke alert tags on your post next time by the way).

      To the ones not old enough - the secretary is a mythical minor deity, which while fickle and capricious at times could usually be pacified by a box of chocolates and some flowers.

      Primary purpose of this minor deity - to ensure that the bosses tantrums, jerk attitude and overall arseholeness is buffered and tuned down before it is unleashed on his direct reports. They were the lubricant which made an old style company work. Unfortunately as with any deity, their power was proportional to the belief in them. As we do not believe in them any more they have waned and disappeared as ghosts into the twilight.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: If it wasn't for peeps like me, you wouldn't need diversitee

        To the ones not old enough - the secretary is a mythical minor deity,

        Miss Moneypenny?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3uglN05EOk

        Lois Maxwell... sigh.

      2. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: If it wasn't for peeps like me, you wouldn't need diversitee

        "Primary purpose of this minor deity - to ensure that the bosses tantrums, jerk attitude and overall arseholeness is buffered and tuned down"

        I remember hearing a secretary explain to her boss that 'bollocks' was not an acceptable word to use in a formal communication.

  6. A-nonCoward

    time to get the frilly frock...

    and declare oneself trans?

    I mean, /that/ would really hit the diversity spot...

    (dreams of Mrs. Doubtfire, and Tootsie...)

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: time to get the frilly frock...

      You won't, though, will you? Even if you thought your $sex was discriminated against and that there would be a huge advantage in "pretending" to be the other $sex, you wouldn't do it, would you? That's the nature of gender identity; it's deeply held.

      And you should admit that rather than colluding in the argument some cis women are using to attack non-cis women and defend their privilege.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: time to get the frilly frock...

        You might be surprised. Some people care deeply about being $sex (and most of them are fortunate enough that their body matches $sex), but some people actually just don't care very much - they consider themselves as being $sex because that's what their body is, and it's just easiest to go along with whatever society expects them to do.

        For those people, the main issues stopping them from changing sex for an advantage at something are things like the practicality or the social acceptability, but the actual gender identity part isn't a big deal to them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: time to get the frilly frock...

        That's the nature of gender identity; it's deeply held.

        Two words: gender fluid. Or is that one word. Either way your assertion that gender is fixed is deeply offensive. Report for re-education.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: time to get the frilly frock...

      (dreams of Mrs. Doubtfire, and Tootsie...)

      All rubbish compared to I My Me! Strawberry Eggs

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_My_Me!_Strawberry_Eggs

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: time to get the frilly frock...

      Sure but those high heels are _murder_ on your ankles...

    4. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: time to get the frilly frock...

      Dolly Parton in 9 to 5.

  7. Vanir

    The art of discrimination

    Google spokesperson:"We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity,"

    So, discriminated on merit. Whatever 'merit' is and how it is 'calculated' or judged.

    And we should reflect that all our merits and flaws are a large part of our identity, our character if you will

    Do you identify with this?

    And interviews are all about finding attributes of peoples' identities to judge whether an individual interviewee will 'fit' with the interviewers' 'gut instinct' of them.

    If you click an up vote or a down vote I accuse you of discrimination.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The art of discrimination

      "Merit" is not an identity, genius.

      Folks like you really can spout any nihilistic bs to shift the focus. No wonder society now is a mess.

      And yeah I downvote you, are you gonna sue me for discrimination? Genius?

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: The art of discrimination

      > If you click an up vote or a down vote I accuse you of discrimination.

      OK, done.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The art of discrimination

      "discriminated on merit. Whatever 'merit' is and how it is 'calculated' or judged"

      usually by looking at your resume, in the sections covering experience and/or education.

      1. Jos V

        Re: The art of discrimination

        I'll explain "merit" and how I "discriminated". Every applicant that had his/her CV land on my desk would get the same 10 question survey emailed to them. Emailed for a purpose. That being, if it took more than a day to reply, it would automatically end in the bin, and second, if I copy-paste your answer in google and it is a copy-paste from a Cisco manual only one of two things could happen... First, you don't know the answer, but manage to find out. Bravo. Second, if more than 2 answers were copied from some source or another without showing any signs of actual knowledge, the bin.

        The opening was mostly for pretty complicated work (well, no), lots of travel, and no "office hours".

        1: Explain the difference between a hub, a switch, and a router

        ...

        ...

        10: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

        Between those, I "discriminated" a lot.

        I needed to have a team that could both work together as a team, and be able to sit in a crap, remote, smelly, cold, devoid of any communications (even working in a telco) by themselves and do the job without help. As many of us commentards probably know, data-centers are never really in prime real-estate areas.(Thank you Sunshine, Brimbank with your abattoir next to the A/C intakes)

        Coincidentally, the team I worked with was more diverse than you would find in most companies, but everyone could work alone, or as a well-oiled team together.

        I think there is a definition of discrimination that calls it something like separating bad from good.

        If I start judging people on race/religion/gender/gender-identity, you may kill me. Well, knowing Monty Python was just a bit of icing.

        1. Robert Forsyth

          Re: The art of discrimination

          Q10: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

          A10. African or European?

          Is surely ageist.

  8. YourLordandSavior

    Youtube founder was Asian

    A Chinese American I recall. I don't know how many people still remember that. Such irony. But I presume he has no real power and control anymore after he sold his company to Google.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Assumptions

    I always find it amusing that (typically) conservative white males leap to the assumption that the women and under-represented recruits are "token", "mediocre", or somehow less-than them.

    Is it so hard to believe that in a population of 7 Billion - some women, black people, transsexuals etc. are AT LEAST AS qualified? Perhaps even more so.

    Whatsmore - their backgrounds & inherent understanding of gender / race / culture specific issues make them MORE VALUABLE than a cookie-cutter ken. The insights they can provide may improve one's product, open new markets, or indeed alter the group dynamic - ultimately creating a more successful business & environment.

    Consider an alternative - a building full of white women clothes designers, seamstresses, marketing folk etc. all key decision makers, all working for Levo's Jeans cause fashion is for rich white girls, innit.

    Not one of them will have the innate Knowledge and experience about where the crotch should be on a man's jeans. Or how much the bottoms & hips should accommodate the (stereotypical) Black & Hispanic figure. Or that rips in the thighs are too immodest for devout Muslim women.

    In this world we must all suffer an inadequate product - or forego it entirely.

    Until one day Levo's is ground into the dust by a company that understands diversity & manages to attract the world's best regardless of colour or creed *because* it's already in the DNA of their Jeans.

    1. James 47

      Re: Assumptions

      > Whatsmore - their backgrounds & inherent understanding of gender / race / culture specific issues make them MORE VALUABLE than a cookie-cutter ken.

      LOL

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Assumptions

        @James 47

        I'm upvoting & assuming sincerity.

        But to clarify, this isn't saying one group is more valuable than another - but that it can be more valuable to a business to introduce people with different backgrounds & alternative frames of reference - rather than hire someone just like everyone else already working there.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Assumptions

      I always find it amusing that (typically) conservative white males leap to the assumption that the women and under-represented recruits are "token", "mediocre", or somehow less-than them.

      I always find it amusing that (typically) white male SJWs jump to utterly unjustified conclusions about what other people think. If I were to say "my application failed because the quota was already filled", I'm not saying I'm better than a black female candidate who got the job. Merely that our respective merits were never considered, and no-one has made a judgement either way.

      She may very well be better than me (we'll never know), but even so she wasn't recruited on merit. And that should bother her too, if she has self-respect.

      Exactly as is alleged to be happening at Google.

      ObDisclaimer: I've never applied to work at Google, though I've had my share of spam from their recruiters. In common with, I suspect, most Reg commentards.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Assumptions

        But her ability to do the job *was* considered... people will not (normally) hire someone who is known to be incompetent or incapable.

        They will hire someone who fulfils the job specification & give preference to the qualified candidate who brings something new to the team.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Assumptions

      Actually not leaping to the assumption they are not as qualified. However, we know for a fact less of those groups have studied computer science or are studying it now in University. You can't somehow make approx. 25% of all people trained become 50% of all people hired without hiring unqualified people.

  10. Robert Forsyth

    Appears Aburd at the Micro Level Less So at the Macro

    So the child is asked what they want to be when they grow up, they think back to the grown ups they have seen.

    1. FrozenShamrock

      Re: Appears Aburd at the Micro Level Less So at the Macro

      This may be true of a child; but, if it is true of a young adult contemplating their career path they are dumb and deserve what they get. This is my third career since graduating University and I never saw anyone in any of my fields, let alone someone that looked like me. If I only considered jobs I saw people that looked like me doing I would be a truck driver, painter, carpenter, etc. One of the goals of education is to open doors never even thought of before.

  11. Teiwaz Silver badge

    This is just not meeting Customer needs....

    Not one of them will have the innate Knowledge and experience about where the crotch should be on a man's jeans. Or how much the bottoms & hips should accommodate the (stereotypical) Black & Hispanic figure. Or that rips in the thighs are too immodest for devout Muslim women.

    No reason this fictional 'Levo Jeans' a la Clamp can't not do their 'market' research properly if they really wanted to reach those demographics.

    Not being a woman doesn't seem to hamper many persons or businesses addressing the needs of a market, provided they properly match their product to the right market. Whether this is possible or not is questionable - a specific cut of jean for a certain figure type might go down well in the right areas, provided the buying public buy for fit and not brandname. I'm not a muslim woman, and even I know ripped jeans (or hotpants) might not be a winner in certain regions...

    Any company that misses the needs of a minority, may well be doing so due to not thinking it worth their interest financially, Employing minorities for PR and diversity reasons will do no good if the company are intent on investing only in the larger audience market to maximise return on investment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is just not meeting Customer needs....

      One -might- acknowledge the issues once they're pointed out - one -may- even have done the research to understand issues beyond one's own frame of reference.

      But time-and-again we see that it isn't done. Members of the out-group are ignored - it takes an outsider to come in and point out obvious flaws - or find new ideas.

      There's also the need to meet the requirements of one's own employees. Uber is the ultimate example of a brotocracy - where "bros before hos" seems to have been the motto, even following allegations of harassment.

      Arguably such an environment would not be allowed to fester in a more diverse environment.

      PS: Women are not a minority. They're 50% of the population & key decision makers in the purchasing of products - unlike in the 50s... so ignoring them *should be* financially damaging.

      But - I accept some companies do target some demographics over others... it makes sense.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something often ignored - especially by bigots who use terms like "cookie-cutter Ken" - in the US (maybe also UK) white workers are actually underrepresented in tech. South Asians are so wildly over-represented (<3% of population, ~30% of tech workers in US) that even with most other ethnic/racial groups underrepresented (esp. black/hispanics), white tech workers are still less than their proportion of the population. Mix in east Asians (also over-represented) and the numbers are even more skewed.

    That is why most stats in the press carefully add Asians to "white" when looking at tech employment - the actual numbers make their desired script too murky.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It certainly wasn't ignored in the article

      Nor in my comments.

      Where Asian men are over-represented one may soon start to see their conscious & unconcious biases negatively affect future decisions.

      But I assume they are still under-represented at an executive / decision-making level?

      The workforce as a whole is important, but it is Under-representation in decision makers that is one of the key problems.

      An abundance of diverse women cleaners & secretaries serving under a boardroom full of old, rich, white men will not change the fact that key decisions are all made from a very specific and similar frame of reference.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: It certainly wasn't ignored in the article

        Yes, this particular AC. It starts from the top. Recruiting more women/minority/disabled/working class foot soldiers to fit a quota is bo**ocks. Recruiting board members and senior managers from a diverse community and objective hiring/promotion systems that ensure,as much as possible, that the best candidates get the regular jobs and chances for promotion, is the sensible way forward. Which raises the question as to whether the top jobs still go to the same group of white well-off males as it did in their fathers' generation, even while the companies are desperate to show diversity lower down. If there are to be quotas of any kinds, anywhere it should start with the boardroom. And it needs to include ensuring that not all the appointees went to the same small pool of posh schools and daddy's Ivy League/Oxbridge/etc. universities. When the old posh white men aren't appointing younger posh white men who appoint young posh white men into management there's a chance of natural diversity through the organisation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It certainly wasn't ignored in the article

          Hit the nail on the head Terry 6.

          Diversity also means different life experiences etc.

          It's not enough to just have a rainbow of people with exactly the same backgrounds.

          It just so happens that race & gender are still characteristics that typically affect one's experiences. That won't always be the case - and we will want to introduce diversity in other ways to prevent stagnation.

  13. Triumphantape

    Who trust McKinsey?

    I don't, a little read up on them shows they have been tied to corruption consistently.

    Not that I'm against diversity (though you could argue that I am in the most contemporary interpretation of the word) just that I'm certain there's much more to the success of these companies than "diversity".

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Who trust McKinsey?

      A recent article in the Economist said that forced diversity in European boardrooms has had no discernible effect on performance or on diversity in the shopfloor, or on pay differentials. You can want it in and of itself, but there are no benefits beyond those that flow to the lucky few daughters of well-connected families who get in at C-suite level.

    2. Frank Fisher

      Re: Who trust McKinsey?

      Yeah, all that award winning "diversity" didn't work out too well for Carillion, did it?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Who trust McKinsey?

        A quick search online for key personnel yielded this site, and it was old white man, old white man, old white man, old white woman, and the rest were apparently vampires as no pictures were available. I could take a wild stab in the dark though about them: Zafar Khan (old Asian man), Emma Mercer (old white woman), Baroness Sally Morgan of Huyton (old white woman with a crown), Andrew Dougal (old white man) and Justin Read (old white man).

  14. c1ue

    But how do you change brotopia?

    I attended an event where the author of brotopia was interviewed by the CEO of taskrabbit. That bias and misanthropy exist isn't a question; what do you expect when you have billion dollar companies started and run by packs of single twenty somethings?

    The issue I have is the fix.

    Quotas aren't just discrimination, they are legislating outcomes.

    I am a firm believer in equal opportunity but I am not a believer in legislated outcomes.

    And for all the talk about white and Asian males having it good - try it if you are white, male and 50+ getting hired on merit (as opposed to being friends with the boss)

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    He is wrong and will lose

    There is no U.S. labor law that says a company cannot determine and set quotas for hiring minorities.

    He was fired for being obnoxious and butthurt.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: He is wrong and will lose

      Not an export on US law but apparently Civil Rights Act of 1964 "... forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment."

      And applies to any organisation doing significant amounts of cross state trade, or having more that 15 employees. So Google's probably covered.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a rare triumph of common sense, safety overrides diversity

    Have very rarely been consulted in the hiring process, but there was an occasion where I strongly recommended against hiring a particular candidate, on the grounds that HE COULD NOT SPEAK ENGLISH, and the work included interaction with heavy mobile machinery and required clear communication for protection of life.

  17. Paper

    Pity party

    Well as a gay man I would feel it's just a bit degrading if the ONLY reason I was selected was because of being a minority.

    A lot of the time, for whatever reasons, the flow of minorities (including LGBTQ+) into tech is just disproportionately less than "white cishet male". That's hardly white straight men's fault! How can it be, we are the ones not opting to go into the tech field...

    Perhaps that's due to peer pressures within our sub communities to opt for certain careers, or not achieving the required academic levels due to have screwed up upbringings due to hardships caused by various factors out of our control, etc.

    I just want to be treated fairly during an interview, not to be preferenced so I can make some company HR stats look good. There are simple ways to do this without forcing the issue.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Pity party

      "Perhaps that's due to [...] not achieving the required academic levels [...]"

      Not sure about this. Gay people are heavily overrepresented in academia, at least in my experience (science, not just humanities). For example, I would estimate something like 10% of mathematics PhDs are gay, way over the underlying population.

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