A California superior court has refused Google's request that it dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging the search giant discriminated against conservatives in hiring and harassed and retaliated against the defendants.
The plaintiffs allege that they were "singled out, mistreated, and systematically punished
and/or terminated" for expressing [conservative] views deviating from the majority of their colleagues."
The plaintiffs at issue, who are both white make conservatives, say Google did not hire them for that reason, as well as their race and gender. One is a military veteran who applied for a job with Google Fiber. The other was a veteran marketing exec whose conservative bent was obvious due to social media postings, and who had written an article criticizing Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
They also allege that the company "utilizes unlawful hiring quotas to reach its desired percentages of female and favored minority candidates and openly denigrates employees who are male, white/Caucasian, and/or Asian."
Google had argued that it was too hard to establish conservatives as a political subclass for the purposes of a class action and asked the court to conclude that as well. The court tended to agree, but was not ready to foreclose the suit at this stage.
"The Court indeed has doubts regarding the viability of the putative Political Subclass claims on each of these grounds," it said. "However, it is not prepared to find at the pleading stage that there is 'no reasonable possibility that the requirements for class certification will be satisfied' as to these claims."
The court said the better time to make that decision would be after an evidentiary hearing on class certification.
"This ruling is a significant step forward for all California workers, and sends notice to Silicon Valley that discrimination of any kind will not be escape legal scrutiny," said lHarmeet K. Dhillon, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. "It is illegal in California to discriminate against an employee for his or her legally protected characteristics, and we are excited to move forward with discovery into Google's challenged employment practices that our clients allege discriminate on the basis of political orientation, race, and gender."
Allegations of conservative bias have been leveled at edge platforms by both House and Senate Republicans and the President. Silicon Valley execs deny systematic bias in hiring or content decisionmaking, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has conceded he understands the concern given the Valley's general liberal bent.