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Memo from Google employee claims discrimination, retaliation

Some people in New York may have heard that Google has faced criticism for its handling of sexual harassment in the workplace, which culminated in a walkout in November in protest. The company revised its sexual harassment policies in response, but critics say the system still does not protect employees, and the organizers of the walkout faced retaliation. Google has come under further scrutiny with the posting of a memo by an employee who says she faced pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.

Although Google says it prohibits retaliation and investigates all claims of discrimination, the memo describes an atmosphere in which the system is breaking down. The initial problems faced by the memo writer happened when she reported a manager for disparaging comments about a mother in the workplace. HR failed to protect her from retaliation after making the report, and she was faced with a choice between staying in her situation and switching teams. The latter choice would hamper her career development.

She took it anyway in an effort to escape the retaliatory environment. However, when she had pregnancy-related health problems, her new manager tried to dissuade her from taking early maternity leave. Once again, HR failed to adequately address her complaints.

Unfortunately, as this story illustrates, even when a company has a policy in place regarding harassment and discrimination and an employee follows the proper channels, the system can still fail. While reporting harassment and discrimination at work may still be the best initial step in many cases, employees may also want to consult an attorney to discuss their rights and the additional steps they should take.

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