An ex-YouTube recruiter claims Google discriminated against white and Asian men — then deleted the evidence (GOOG)

Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki

Stephen Lam/Reuters

  • Google stopped hiring white and Asian candidates for jobs at YouTube in late 2017 in favour of  candidates from other ethnicities, according to a new civil lawsuit filed by a former YouTube recruiter.

  • Arne Wilberg claimed in his suit that YouTube recruiters were instructed to hire "all diverse" candidates in late 2017, and that he was fired in November last year after complaining.

  • In one alleged incident, recruiters said they felt uncomfortable with the way black candidates were being discussed like "black slaves as slave traders on a ship."

  • According to the claim, Google deleted evidence of its diversity hiring processes from staffers' cloud accounts and inboxes.

  • Google told the Wall Street Journal it would defend the lawsuit and said it hired on merit and not appearances.

Google stopped hiring white and Asian men to YouTube last year in favour of women and minority applicants, according to a civil lawsuit filed by a former YouTube recruiter. White and Asian men are historically over-represented in the tech world.

We first saw the suit via the Wall Street Journal.

Arne Wilberg claimed he was fired in November 2017 when he complained about the practices, which he said systematically discriminated against white and Asian job applicants.

According to the suit:

"For the past several years, Google has had and implemented clear and 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. These policies were reflected in multiple bulletins, memorandum, charts, and other documents prepared by Google’s highest-level managers, and approved by Google’s C-level officers and directors."

Both Wilberg and other unnamed recruiters on YouTube's team felt uncomfortable with discriminating against white and Asian men, the suit claimed. In one alleged episode, recruiters felt that the way senior managers were talking about hiring black employees was like "we were talking about black slaves as slave traders on a ship."

Google told the Wall Street Journal it would defend the lawsuit. "We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity," a spokeswoman said. "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."

Wilberg's suit focuses mainly on three pieces of evidence.

First was an internal policy document which stated that for three months in 2017, YouTube recruiters should only hire diverse candidates.

Second was an internal weekly hiring recap which compared how many female and diverse candidates Google had hired with its internal goals. Google's recap for the first quarter showed it had hired 14 women against a goal of 82, one black candidate against a goal of 21, and five Latin applicants against a goal of 13. Google "carefully" tracked the race and gender of job applicants, the suit alleged, and used those characteristics to decide who to hire.

Google weekly recap hiring YouTube lawsuit
Google weekly recap hiring YouTube lawsuit

San Mateo Superior Court

Wilberg's suit also cited an email from YouTube staffing manager Allison Alogna, which said: "Hi Team: Please continue with L3 candidates in process and only accept new L3 candidates that are from historically underrepresented groups." The term L3 refers to candidates with zero to five years' experience.

That email allegedly suggests that recruiters should weed out any candidates who aren't from an "underrepresented" group.

YouTube lawsuit email Allison Alogna
YouTube lawsuit email Allison Alogna

San Mateo Superior Court

According to the suit, recruiters including Wilberg complained about the practices. The policies continued, but Google leadership allegedly instructed recruiters to delete any candidate tracking from their inboxes, and to delete any references to those trackers. "Google’s Staffing Team continued with Google's illegal hiring policies, but stopped tracking and engaged in an effort to delete all the evidence of the preferences given to women and minorities in Google’s hiring practices," the suit claimed.

Wilberg's suit outlined how he continually butted heads with his superiors over whether Google's practices were unlawful. He claims he was fired in November for "pretextual" reasons, such as not being collaborative.

You can read the claims in full here:

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