Google has an interesting way of dealing with its employees when they complain about problems with race based or sex discrimination. The company tells its people that they should seek mental health counselling.
NBC News reported on the complaints of several Google employees. One was Mexican American Benjamin Cruz. Cruz identifies as non-binary and so prefers to be referred to as they and not him.
Cruz told NBC about what happened after they complained about being told that their skin was darker than expected by a co-worker. “After I made that complaint, my work started getting pushed out from under me, but my team acted like everything was fine. I wanted to find help,” Cruz said. “When the medical leave was recommended to me, it was like an automatic process.”
Another Google employee of color spoke with NBC News anonymously. He said, “Going on leave is so normalized. I can think of 10 people that I know of in the last year that have gone on mental health leave because of the way they were treated.”
A black woman who worked at Google told a similar story about how the company dealt with her complaints. “It felt belittling. I wasn’t in shock because I had heard it before. I had watched other leaders in the organization take these mental health leaves and then disappear,” she told NBC News. “It was clear that they weren’t going to take me seriously.”
Google did not respond directly to these complaints. Instead Jennifer Rodstrom, a Google spokeswoman, issued a statement saying, “We have a well-defined process for how employees can raise concerns and we work to be extremely transparent about how we handle complaints. All concerns reported to us are investigated rigorously, and we take firm action against employees who violate our policies.”
Meanwhile CNET spoke with Google employees about why they formed a union. One reason given was how the company handled sexual misconduct claims against Andy Rubin, a former Google executive and the creator of the Android mobile operating system. Rubin left Google in 2014 with a $90 million exit package.
Former Google employee Meredith Whittaker told CNET, “We need to organize tech, because its power over our core social institutions is profound. I think the job now is to build [the Alphabet Workers Union] into something that’s bold and capacious enough to fight for both the social justice demands and the bread-and-butter issues and to recognize that they’re inseparable.”