James Damore, the software engineer who wrote an internal memo that questioned Google’s diversity efforts and was fired as a result, will likely sue the company, according to The New York Times.
Damore told the Times he would “likely be pursuing legal action. I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does.”
Damore revealed he had submitted a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board before he was fired claiming that Google’s upper management was “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints,” adding it was “illegal to retaliate” against an N.L.R.B. charge.
The memo, called “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” triggered Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, to send a company-wide email titled “Our Words Matter” stating that the memo had violated the company’s code of conduct and advanced “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
Pichai wrote, “The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic.’”
In his memo, Damore wrote:
Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety. This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed. The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology. … Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies.
Damore had been employed by Google since 2013. He was a chess champion as a child, earning the FIDE Master title, finishing second in the National Youth Action 2003 Chess Tournament. He was also the highest ranked player in the world in the video game Rise of Nations in 2004. He has stated that he graduated from University of Illinois in 2010 as a James Scholar and was given the Bronze Tablet. He then went to Harvard University to get a Ph.D. in systems biology between 2011 to 2013, but it is not clear if he completed the degree.