Google accused of excluding Asians, whites for some positions

A lawsuit alleges the search giant set hiring quotas for some technical positions.

Steven Musil
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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Watch this: Lawsuit accuses Google of excluding Asians, whites for some positions
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A lawsuit alleges Google set hiring quotas for some technical positions.

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A former Google recruiter was fired from his job for objecting to a company practice of rejecting Asian and white male candidates for technical positions, according to a civil lawsuit filed against the internet giant.

Arne Wilberg, who worked at Google for nine years, alleges Google set quotas for hiring minorities, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The lawsuit, filed in January in California's San Mateo County Superior Court, also alleges Wilberg was fired by Google in retaliation for complaining to human resources about the company's hiring practices, the news agency reported.

The controversy comes as Silicon Valley companies grapple with how to increase workforce diversity in an industry dominated by white men and permeated with corporate cultures that seem biased against women and female engineers. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies now regularly release diversity reports, highlighting low percentages of women and minority employees, with few moving up the management chain.

Google had "irrefutable policies, memorialized in writing and consistently implemented in practice, of systematically discriminating in favor of job applicants who are Hispanic, African-American or female, and against Caucasian and Asian men," according to Wilberg's complaint, which said the same policies existed at YouTube.

Google said the company will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.

"We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity," the company said in a statement. "At the same time, we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles, as this helps us hire the best people, improve our culture, and build better products."

In January, James Damore, who was fired by Google after writing a controversial 3,300-word memo, filed a lawsuit accusing the search giant of discriminating against white men. Damore alleged the company mistreats, punishes and terminates employees who don't adhere to the "Googley way," a set of policies around bias sensitivity, social justice and diverse hiring.

Last month, in regard to a separate complaint made by Damore, to the US National Labor Relations Board, an NLRB lawyer said Google fired Damore not for expressing dissenting views or criticism, but over "unprotected discriminatory statements" in his memo.

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