Google under investigation for alleged discrimination against pregnant employee, report says

A federal agency is said to be looking at whether the tech giant mishandled discrimination complaints.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Angela Lang/CNET

A federal agency is reportedly investigating Google for allegedly discriminating against a pregnant employee. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is tasked with overseeing workplace discrimination, transferred a complaint against Google to its investigation division on Wednesday, according to CNBC.

The incident detailed in the complaint involves Chelsey Glasson, who'd worked at Google for five years. She wrote an internal memo in August saying she was targeted with discrimination and retaliation during her pregnancy. That 2,300-word memo, titled I'm Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here Is Why, went viral within the company and was viewed by more than 10,000 people. 

Glasson reportedly filed her complaint with the EEOC in late 2019, according to CNBC. In response, Google reportedly said in January that no discrimination took place.

"Reporting misconduct takes courage and we want to provide care and support to people who raise concerns," a Google spokeswoman said Wednesday. "All instances of inappropriate conduct reported to us are investigated rigorously, and over the past year we have simplified how employees can raise concerns and provided more transparency into the investigations process at Google. We work to be extremely transparent about how we handle complaints and the action we take." 

In her memo, Glasson said that in the past her manager had made inappropriate comments about pregnant women. When she reported her manager to human resources, Glasson said she experienced retaliation. When Glasson was about to go on maternity leave herself, she says, her boss said she wouldn't be guaranteed her managerial role when she returned. 

Google has faced previous allegations of retaliation. In 2018, Google employees held a massive walkout over the company's handling of sexual harassment charges made against key executives. Two of the walkout organizers, Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittakersaid they faced retaliation from management for their organizing efforts. Stapleton left the company in June and Whittaker left in July. 

The EEOC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.