‘Ideological Echo Chamber’: Google Faces Lawsuit for Political Bias Against Conservatives

Google is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly discriminating against job applicants based on their political beliefs.

Software engineer James Damore filed the suit against Google after he was fired by the company in August 2017 for writing an internal memo that criticized the company for becoming an “ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too scary to be honestly discussed.”

Damore targeted Google’s political bias in the memo, asking his colleagues to “stop alienating conservatives” and “confront Google’s biases.”

“Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently,” he wrote. “In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.

“Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is required for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.”

In the memo, Damore also argued the gender gap in technology is attributed to the biological differences between men and women and encourages Google employees to consider how their own biases exacerbate the gender gap.     

The memo was shared on a company mailing list,  then went “internally viral,” according to one employee and was then leaked to the media. Damore was subsequently fired.   Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued the senior software engineer had crossed the line between debate and “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

In January 2018, Damore along with ex-Google employee David Gudeman filed a class action lawsuit against the tech giant claiming the company is an ideologically discriminatory and “singled out, mistreated and systematically punished and terminated” employees who don’t adhere to the company’s majority consensus on “diversity,” “social justice” and “bias sensitivity.”

Google’s hiring practices, according to the suit, are biased against conservatives, white and Asian people and men. The plaintiffs are seeking class certification to represent others they believe have been discriminated against by the tech giant.

Damore and Gudeman later amended their complaint to include plaintiffs, Stephen McPherson and Michael Burns, who claimed they were rejected for jobs at Google because the company unlawfully prioritizes hiring women and certain minorities to the detriment of white male applicants and discriminates against politically conservative applicants.

Damore also attempted to fight back against the termination by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which decide Google was within its right to fire him. Last year, he exited the lawsuit and entered arbitration with the company, however, McPherson and Burns’ complaints were left in open court.

Google asked the court to toss the political bias claims, maintains in legal filings that conservatives are an unidentifiable class under the law and that plaintiffs will be unable to substantiate how millions of rejected applicants were demonstrably conservative.

But the suit survived a dismissal motion from Google and will move forward into the discovery phase. Google Judge Brian C. Walsh argued the court “indeed has doubts” about the viability of the idea, but will allow the case to move forward.

“Ultimately, it will be plaintiff’s burden to show that certification of the Political Subclass is appropriate,” Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Brian Walsh wrote. “The Court anticipates that this will not be an easy burden to satisfy; however, the pleadings do not establish that there is no reasonable possibility it can be met.”

President Trump has accused Google of “rigging” its search engine against him, arguing 96 percent of news search results about him come from the “national left-wing media.”

Google insists President Trump’s claims that Google search results are biased as a “conspiracy theory.” However, there is an abundance of evidence to show that the search engine was biased towards Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

A 2016 report from Dr. Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology proved Google appeared to favor positive autocomplete search results relating to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, even when search terms critical of Clinton were actually more popular at the time.

Google’s manipulation of search results related to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election that had the potential to “shift as many as 3 million votes,” according to Epstein.

A video published by Matt Lieberman of Sourcefed also substantiates Google searches suppressed negative information about Hillary Clinton while other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo showed accurate results.

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