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Google Employees Explain How They Were Retaliated Against for Reporting Abuse (vice.com)
199 points by ForFreedom 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



I don't really know what anyone* can do to address some of these, as unacceptable as the occurrence of these stories are. Reading through the document (linked to by SolaceQuantum), there's one case where someone felt unprotected by HR because they asked HR not to investigate and HR did, and claimed to have fired the person for other HR problems. I'm not sure what HR should have done there. Are they supposed to not at least investigate serious accusations so they know what happened, even if they never reveal who reported the manager?

There are other stories where someone claims something that can't be proven and that was either not witnessed, or must have been denied by everyone. Yeah it sucks if everyone on your team is protecting a douche, but... is HR supposed to intervene and fire someone because only one person claims something happened?

edit: *I mean anyone in HR. Obviously the team members protecting people are at fault in the first place. If you're on the victim side of this, you have to have a paper trail. Even messaging a coworker, "Didn't [boss]'s joke bother you? Where he/she [dropped the N-word | kept talking about sex]?" Then HR investigation can't say there's no evidence. If it progresses to the point of a lawsuit, now you actually have evidence.


That's a complaint from someone who doesn't understand the function of HR. HR isn't there to protect the employee. They are there to protect the company while giving the impression they are there for the employees. Sometimes that means they protect both at the same time. It always means they operate in the company's interests, sometimes to the detriment of an employee or employees.

A lot of what I hear about google sounds like what you get when you let the inmates run the asylum. For example, allowing political discussions on company forums or letting employees get the impression they have some social responsibility or a responsibility to take a position is just a recipe for disaster. What you end up with is conflict and immaturity in the workplace because politics and career have combined to become part of their identity. That's toxic in the type of organization that has historically been disconnected from politics and social causes. It's no surprise this kind of stuff is going on and people are chalking it up to retaliation for this, that or the other thing. In normal companies, people get moved around, demoted or ignored all the time and they don't always blame it on retaliation for political beliefs or for reporting abuse. They blame it on some asshole manager or decide the company isn't for them and they move on. Sounds like google needs a higher degree of professionalism.


> In normal companies, people get moved around, demoted or ignored all the time and they don’t always blame it on retaliation for political beliefs or for reporting abuse. They blame it on some asshole manager or decide the company isn’t for them and move on.

Even if what you’re describing is normal corporate behavior, it’s still not great. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to accept the idea of “asshole managers” or toxic corporate cultures, and we should be reporting on this sort of thing more? As a single individual, it’s difficult to change a culture that spans across different companies, and sometimes you’ll need to pick your battles, but I don’t think we should tear down people who are trying to change the status quo for the better. Google employees are in a good position to do this too, since their protests will draw more attention than from someone in a small, unknown company and can shed a light on these practices in other places as well.


I believe the OP means that the people who are demoted/reassigned blame it on “asshole managers,” not that the managers are in fact asshole. The reality is, in any organization, you’ll have people who are incompetent, and people who are simply unwilling to do their jobs.


Having served in the military, this rings extremely true to me. Most individual traits are eliminated with hair cut and uniform requirements, but anything left is seized upon with extra vigor.

This is demonstrated aptly against women. Men blame both failure and success of women on their gender. And the reality? Do women hide in their separated berthings and screen calls for each other? You bet. Do women get promoted because theyre more flirtatious and more easy to get along with? Duh. People that bitch about the above like to focus on those 6 problem women and forget theres 50 men you can barely count on to piss on a fire. Side story: I knew a salty submarine (100% male until ~5 years ago in US) male master chief that summed women in the navy perfectly: women are people; some good, some bad, some in the middle, and if you treat them like sailors, they act like sailors.

Point is, non-professional discussion rarely belong in the workplace. Letting those go basically guarantees conflict.


> HR isn't there to protect the employee. They are there to protect the company while giving the impression they are there for the employees.

An overly broad generalisation. In situations where there's a direct conflict between the needs of the company and the employee - yes, absolutely. But those are relatively rare, in my experience,


here's one case where someone felt unprotected by HR because they asked HR not to investigate and HR did

FWIW, this sort of thing is included in every HR training I have ever done. HR is obligated to investigate issues regardless of the desire of the complainant. This is both for the benefit of the company (that doesn't want to employ a problematic employee) and other employees (that do not want to be future victims).


> There are other stories where someone claims something that can't be proven and that was either not witnessed, or must have been denied by everyone. Yeah it sucks if everyone on your team is protecting a douche, but... is HR supposed to intervene and fire someone because only one person claims something happened?

That's the gist of the #believeallwomen movement. No due process or innocent until proven guilty, just one accusation from a person with an identity that has more "oppression" points than your own identity and it is off to the guillotine with you.

I do not believe this is the correct way for society to function and thrive. It will self-select for sub-optimal or even outright dystopian outcomes. I wonder how SV tech companies that encourage and hire people with these viewpoints will fare once the money hose runs out?


That's a lawsuit of a movement if it happens in the workplace.

What seemed like an enlightened powerpoint presentation that couldn't fail is turning against them. By activity seeking out these viewpoints google should have expected to make internal changes that promoted fairness over value. Google refuses to prioritize empowerment over functioning process and there is a mismatch between what they say and do.

Google can't have teams decide by a manager picking who they want because they may be biased. Culturally that's a big change.


> someone felt unprotected by HR

How can this ever be true. Why would someone possibly expect HR to protect them.

Isn't it basic commonsense that HR( or anyone) works for person who pays them. Their job is to protect their employers from you ( not the other way around). I've never worked at a place where this wasn't true. Maybe this should be taught in college or something.


Employee: "HR's priority is protecting me."

Experienced employee: "HR's priority is protecting management."

Manager: "HR's priority is protecting the company."

Experienced manager: "HR's priority is protecting HR."


If you ever want to proceed with legal actions against the company then you have to put it into record somewhere which typically means reporting incidents to HR. Which ultimately leads to getting fired. What else are people supposed to do?

It's a shitty unwinnable situation for employees, I've been on the shit end of this stick before at a different tech co for complaining and was retaliated against. It's not fun and I feel sympathy for anyone who's lives are being turned over because of it.


If only there was some way that employees could create their own organization that can act as an alternative resources to the companies HR department that puts the employees interests ahead if the companies.


If both employees are in the union, it may just be another venue for one side to get railroaded.


It was only last week on twitter I read a well known tweeter and company owner saying he didn't see the point of unions in software companies.


You have to admit that at least in the Valley, the mobility between companies has done a phenomenal amount to up monetary and non- benefits for employees and help people escape any situation that don't particularly care for. A lot of that started with Google. Several of these articles even mention that they came to Google expecting better - this is a relatively recent blemish on their reputation. For a unionized industry to treat employees they way Silicon Valley does and have the absolute biggest companies occasionally make the news for stuff like this would be pretty impressive. I mean the local teachers and oil workers where I live have unions and deal with shit WAYY worse than this still.


A company owner who doesn't see the points of unions... unsurprising.


> If you ever want to proceed with legal actions against the company then you have to put it into record somewhere which typically means reporting incidents to HR.

This is not true. You don't have to record anything with HR for legal action. Its not a prerequisite by any means.

Going to HR is always a wrong move. Get a lawyer.


My mother was a lawyer and did a lot of sexual harassment / workplace descriminiation work. Obviously that doesn't make me a lawyer or anything close to one, but she would have advised going to HR as soon as possible (I even asked just now to be sure.) It's important to document in/action and/or a pattern of abuse on the company's part. You can (and should) certainly document these things on your own, but if you never go to HR the company will have an avenue of escape open ("s/he never told us, this is a rogue manager, we had no idea", etc.)

BTW, you sue your company and you're gone either way.


If you're ever lucky enough to need a lawyer for a situation like this, one of the first things they'll need is for you to report this to the company – it's very, very, difficult to argue negligence or retaliation if the company never heard about it in the first place


> Going to HR is always a wrong move. Get a lawyer.

This is horrible advice. Going to HR is about leaving a paper trail, which is very important. No judge or arbitrator is going to give two hoots about i-said/they-said without (dated) documentation to back it up.


HR is not obligated to keep any paper trail, but if you went there, they can be made to testify under oath.


Victims are best off if they can keep their own paper trail - ideally using personal lines of communication or printing them immediately so the company can't "lose" them. As I mentioned in another comment, even IM'ing a fellow employee a casual comment along the lines of "didn't that bother you when the boss used the N-word" or something. Their response likely confirms that it happened. Casual chat to your HRBP in the hallway? Follow up with an email clarifying the important points. May sound awkward if you haven't before, but it's common: just prefacing it with, "I just wanted to make sure we're on the same page about where we left things: <bullet point summary of discussion and outcome>".

In an HN discussion about dealing with medical billing / insurance people who screw you over, it was recommend to keep meticulous notes of everything, and that reading back specific dates and names of people you spoke to who contradicted the person you're speaking to now got people to take you seriously and fix their mistakes real quick. I have since found that to be true.


Of course HR is not obligated. That's the whole problem in the first place.

You're responsible for keeping your own paper trail.


If you don't raise it to the company, how can you later prove they enabled this kind of workplace (or failed to remediate) if it was never raised to be addressed?


Many of these sound like they come from junior members disillusioned with how things work.

Things like my manager didn't listen to me so I feel belittled. I have the second most experience so he should have. The company then moved me to a different team and I wasn't second in command so I lost my leadership.

Doesn't the manager pick the team? If you don't support his vision and want to use a different approach being moved to a different team may be the best solution. What does this person want Google to do? Talk to the manager and tell them to listen to change the approach and listen to this team member because they have different ideas and they need to feel heard.

Google can't get involved at that level and start second guessing technical details just because someone needs to be heard. They will judge the manager by the project's overall goals.

The problem is google is giving too much freedom to employees who are use to a little bit more handholding and structured interactions.


That’s not what the article says:

> “I witnessed first hand (and was told second-hand) of several situations where women were being belittled, insulted and ignored. As the person with the second-longest tenure on the team, I suggested in a few 1:1s that my manager confront some of these issues,” wrote another Googler. “Because of my advocacy I was removed from my tech lead position and moved to another team along with the only woman left under my then-manager.”

Is it a smoking gun? No, but it’s curious that one of the longest tenured members of the team was removed from their leadership position and moved to another team only after speaking up about harassment.


It's only curious because we're selectively viewing the stories of the subset of people who protested or reported bad behavior and subsequently received poor ratings. The people who speak out and don't subsequently receive poor performance ratings or get moved to a different team are not displayed here. Thus it produces an illusion of causality.


We don't have the information necessary to determine whether the two events are correlated or coincidental.


That makes perfect sense. How would you resolve the issue?

The most important role that person has is to support the leader and implement their ideas while providing leadership to the team. Advocacy for her own ideas and rallying the team behind them doesn't support this.

So google decides to move unhappy employee and friend to a team with a different vision . On the new team her she doesn't have the service level others do.

What would you have done? Move her to a new team with more junior members so she can still feel like a leader still? That project will be less important than the project she is on. Does that matter?

Maybe they wanted to put her on a team with stronger senior leadership to help guide her.

Should they have moved the manager on and made her manager?

When I see comments like: belittled, insulted and ignored

The manager heard how she wanted to do the project and gave reasons why. She did not accept his leadership and kept bring up her point of view. At first he answered them but tiring of being undermined he gave less importance to what she was saying until just ignoring her. She rallied others to go against the manager and used that in her complaint.

Google took the issue serious and said we need to move her and her friend to another team. If the manager has similiar issues in the future they may let him go. If she has similiar issues on her new team the same might apply.

Internally she may not be asked to join as many teams. And he will be watched closely. Lose-lose


HR is not your friend and HR will never be your friend. In a post-2008 world, it baffles me that people still think that somewhere, deep-down, multi-billion dollar conglomerates have employees' best interests at heart. How quickly we forgot people losing their lifelong savings and entire pension funds going bust. Only to have the government bail out the exact same charlatans that dropped the ball in the first place.

Corporate culture is very much a zero-sum game, and I think a pinch of cynicism (or heck, realism) can go a long way.


I completely agree. If I ever find myself in the situation of one of these stories, aka the victim, I will be going straight to an employment lawyer before HR to discuss my options. Hopefully meeting with HR with my lawyer present.


Yeah. Never underestimate domain expertise either. They love to deal with someone who's "smarter" but who lacks that knowledge.

It's weird that HR has to be such an adversarial entity though. One might naively expect them to provide some kind of useful utility beyond protecting the company, even if that's their primary purpose... In my only rather mundane interaction with them, not as a victim or anything, at the suggestion of the office manager I tested the waters with a complaint about people bringing their kids into the office and letting them roam. I still recollect a surreal feeling from the HR rep telling me how they liked how carefully and precisely worded my email was -- it felt like a sign of them telling me they know that I know not to trust them and that my distrust is justified since without such careful wording it'd be trivial to paint me as a parent- or child-hating monster, or whatever, who is the real problem. I got more than I expected out of the exchange (a reminder was sent out to the office that it's against the rules -- not that it stopped anyone the following summer) but the experience alone from satisfying my curiosity on whether HR could be useful with even this one minor annoyance was worth the risk (real or imagined) of backfire.


I’m curious, how do the pricing compare? Having a lawyer at an HR interview is certainly $800 already (at $300/hr), with what, 2% chances of succeeding a trial, and say 15% chances of getting a settlement, but also months of dragging. lawsuit and difficulty to focus on a new job, assuming you find a new employer. Do people really get settled for dozens of thousands of dollars?


If the suit survives a motion to dismiss, all the time.


And your case would probably be dismissed before it ever gets off the ground. That’s if you can get an attorney to take it in the first place. You could have an ironclad case of whatever and if everyone shows up to court and it’s the first time the company is hearing about it, chances are the judge will throw it out. They generally have to be given an opportunity to respond before you can go kick their asses in court.


Don't be baffled! No one thinks this. Everyone has seen a variation of this comment a million times by now, and everyone knows it, but companies will never be able to admit it. It's all about putting stress on the lie. If a corp won't solve its issues and employees quit because of it, "well duh of course they're gonna protect stakeholders' interest" isn't really helpful or new.


I think it's still good advice. The first thing big corporations do when you join is make you sit through a bunch of mandatory compliance videos that teach you that you're not allowed retaliate against people who report harassment or corruption. Then they make everyone sign an agreement to follow the code of conduct, which everyone does. I can certainly see how anyone who still any faith left in humanity could believe these claims to be true.


> No one thinks this

History and experience tells me the exact opposite - most folks still think HR is there for them, which is the root of many issues.


If my colleagues are anything to go by, almost everyone thinks this.


HR as an organization is not your friend. However, the individual you encounter in HR may be more or less favorably inclined towards you. As an example, I suffered a serious health issue and it just so happened that the HR person assigned to my case had gone through the exact same thing. That person was extremely helpful advising me of my rights and how to exercise them.

Organizations are prone to various pathological behaviors, but the individuals in them are still thinking breathing feeling human beings and sometimes they choose to act decently. Be willing to give them that chance.


One on one sure but in packs they will eat you alive.


There are companies that buck the trend of growth and profits at all cost. None of them are publicly traded.


This is covering a full document of 45 google employees' claims of sexually/racially motivated abuse, toxic workplace experiences, and retaliatory behavior upon attempting to report such. Here is the link to the full document: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6427199-Examples-Ret...


I was speaking with some friends about this recently, and how it seems a lot like the uncanny valley effect. Relatively, Google has made a lot of effort to not be racist/sexist. They're working towards not being those things (though still evil for other reasons), but somewhere in between the start and finish is this uncanny valley where scandals are super likely to happen.

My friends and I all had different theories on why it's so prone to scandals, but we could agree that:

1. it still wasn't fully equal

2. it was equal to empower people to retaliate against the inequalities

3. there's a good chance some people were patting theme-selves on the back without fully achieving the goal

When we were talking about it, it was in the context of Meow Wolf. But it also seems to scale to a lot of West Coast politics.


Google has mostly focused on hiring more diverse candidates, and investing in bootcamp type projects. These initiatives help Google by increasing the pool of workers from which they hire, so they can look progressive while saving money.

Now, actually fighting misogyny and racism within the company has the potential to affect their bottom line, because it involves holding people in power accountable. If they have a staff engineer or VP who's accused of sexual assault, firing him or putting him on leave could impact productivity.


Yes. At a normal crappy company, this isn't news. But at a company you hold to a higher standard (for whatever reason - perhaps its PR, perhaps because they are leaders, perhaps because they are rich enough to be challenged to be better), it's news.


I hope that Googlers can work toward creating a labor organization that helps them resolve these issues, because in light of all this and after Google HR’s involvement in the wage-fixing scandal, it seems obvious that things are pretty rotten in terms of their internal governance.


That raises some interesting questions about dynamics and alternatives. HR is infamous for their primary role being liability prevention or more crudely stated ass-covering.

Do you know of any alternative systems in place to resolve issues?

Even if Google wanted to form some sort of employee handled board or arbitration to decide how to handle accusations they would still be liable. And that is ignoring messy office politics involved in that sort of empowerment, bad actors, or just flaws of many parajudicial systems.

That companies would still be liable isn't neccessarily a bad thing as otherwise it could be delegated into a bigotted council and violate all sorts of discrimination laws at will. Any innovative system would need to address those issues as well.


Possibly: recognise a union.


Honestly at the highest paid tech company in the world a union isn't the answer.

They need to hire people that fit their culture better or change their culture to match their people.


Many of the highest paid industries (professional athletes, entertainment) are unionized, so I fail to see what’s special about Google/tech. All this talk about “culture” is just intended to prevent workers from joining together and having an actual say in the companies for which they make so much money.


There is some culture elements in there even if the cynical reasons are the same - those other higher paying occupations are require working with people instead of their products. The dynamics change. Actors need to work with directors and any other actors in scenes. A union's arbitration there appeals as protection for the workers from each other. Workers would agree that they don't want to have to work with a guy who regulary assaults them for instance. A very reasonable case.

This structure like most tools also has a dark use. Not as a "is bad" but "not automatically good". It could be used to perpetuate discrimination as the members don't want those <slurs> working in <their occupation>. As common for bigotry it is not a good move for long term health.

Anyway the sociality seems to be an underemphasised factor to unions. This isn't to say that the non people-to-people jobs should never unionize just that it is especially artifical like say the practice of putting rubber duck covering a fence post point - it is harder to set up and maintain as norm when the first question everyone asks is "Why bother with the duck?"

As far as I am aware there are no serious scientest unions - doctors boards are the closest thing but there are many significant differences.


Most scientists in academic institutions in the US belong to faculty unions that negotiate on their behalf. If you want to split hairs about whether this constitutes a “scientist union,” feel free, but the larger point that scientists are largely non-union does not seem to bear scrutiny. In addition, Australia has a scientist trade union: http://www.professionalsaustralia.org.au/scientists/


Yeah I agree. Given that a company can ignore HR if they choose to, I'm not sure how else workers can expect to be protected from this kind of thing.


What came of the employees threatening physical violence against James Damore? Were they fired?


I think a few of them were, I know at least one did.

https://www.cnet.com/news/google-engineer-says-he-was-fired-...


Link to more info?


Just look at the documents submitted as discovery for his lawsuit. The chat logs and emails are all there.


To put things in perspective, 45 employees represent ~0.14% of all the women working at Google (based on wikipedia and [1]). Given my perception of humans and abusive corporate structures, I am actually quite impressed!

Obviously the article doesn't tell us anything on the collection methodology, or try to put things in perspective. The reader is free to apply their bias and infer the meaning that suits them the best.

[1]: https://fortune.com/2017/06/29/google-2017-diversity-report/


I realise I might get downvoted here because of an unpopular point of view, but some of these comments raise a few flags:

“I reported it up to where my manager knew, my director knew, the coworker’s manager knew and our HR representative knew. Nothing happened. I was warned that things will get very serious if continued,”

So EVERYONE knew and they still disagreed with their point of view. Warned them that accusations without proof like that would get serious. Does that make them evil?

“I whistle blew a colleague who used the N-word in jokes. HR found nothing conclusive”

So HR investigated, found nothing conclusive. What is the alternative? The did their job and arrived to a conclusion. Just because the conclusion did not match the accusation, now Google is evil?

“when I was sexually harassed on my former team by my [team lead] I quickly reported it to my manager. I was told I was ‘overreacting’ and that I should just ‘get over it.’”

Again, this seems to be a subjective stance. Your manager thought you were overreacting, given whatever proof / accusations you provided. Just because he / she did not agree with it, does not mean they are evil.


`“I whistle blew a colleague who used the N-word in jokes. HR found nothing conclusive”`

I was once asked in an HR investigation about a similar accusation where I was present in the room when a coworker was supposed to have said this slur in a joke.

Not only was the word not said, but the actual context of the conversation reported was that the accused party was decrying a public figure for making blatantly racist statements. I made it absolutely clear to HR that nobody in the room would tolerate even the slightest bit of racism -- none of us would find that acceptable in any way.

Certain people have sensitivities such that they will overhear things in passing and then inject words into a conversation that were never said. It's just like that game of telephone we all play as kids that somehow everyone forgets the lessons of by adulthood.

That's my charitable interpretation of the reporter's actions in this circumstance. Given their wild accusations about a recent new hire who is a minority though, I suspect something more nefarious and that HR process might be used as a weapon by an actual racist here.

My point is just that evidence is important and that probably most companies don't want the blowback of letting a known racist get away with it because that sort of thing tends to blow up in public later.


It might not save you from downvotes, but, you're absolutely right. Internally, the reaction was the same - people were happy to participate in the walk out, but when leaders tried creating into a referendum on their individual careers, they way overplayed their hand and tried harder than they did for the original walkout. People read the charges, smelled BS, and didn't participate.

Somewhat offtopic, but a heuristic that I've slowly learned is when people complain about promotion or org shuffles. Google is full of extremely type A people who stop getting signal of success the minute they walk in the door, and "it's been 4 years and no promotion or increase in responsibility!" is absolutely normal, and I've seen people stripped of 10+ person teams regularly and not as a punishment.


> Your manager thought you were overreacting, given whatever proof / accusations you provided. Just because he / she did not agree with it, does not mean they are evil.

In a company the size of google, managers aren't the people that should have an opinion on this matter. What that manager said, assuming this document is valid, is absolutely terrible. Heck, if some manager in my hypothetical company told someone that their report of sexual harassment is an "overreaction" that person wouldn't be manager for long.


I often see discussions like this, but there is no specific action described. How does one test for overreaction or not, if nothing is specified? Some paranoid people may get insulted by a a single unconscious look that you don’t really control, cause it’s just your facial feature. And then think about it all day, checking in more random details.

Can someone who read it please cite it here?


Somewhat blissfully, work isn't a court of law, and the source document makes clear everyone and their mother knew what was going on, and they knew the employee would go public with these claims, and yet had the courage to not throw someone else under the bus so they could appear morally pure


Fair enough. Perhaps a process needs to be in place in which no matter what the accusation is, it needs to go through a proper HR process. Having said that, if a manager should have no opinion on a sexual harassment accusation, then the accuser should have gone directly to HR.


A manager can be in an advisor role with some employees. In a mentor relationship I think giving an opinion should allowed.

If a manager knows this person's goals and understands the harassment process and resources involved then they may suggest not reporting. Most of the time its to save themselves but this could be a wise strategy


To add to what you are saying: I feel a lot of the accusations are generic and overly ambiguous and this can lead to multiple interpretations which hurts everyone.

For example: “I witnessed first hand (and was told second-hand) of several situations where women were being belittled, insulted and ignored”

This text mentions the accusation of 'belittled, insulted and ignored'. But what exactly happened?

It COULD mean a long term pattern of horrific abuse and psychological torment.

But as a Latino working in the US, I've seen first hand other Latinos completely over-react and get defensive in situations which were completely uncalled for.

Someone makes a joke about Mexican food and they feel 'belittled and insulted'. Then because they are so insanely sensitive and tend to take everything personally, other co workers ignore them. To me, that's the logical conclusion of what happens to people with a victim mentality. I'm Latino and feel they were wrong for being sensitive. Am I wrong too?

I say this because as a Latino, I don't want WASPs to feel scared of speaking near me. If that happens, there will be segregation. And I would understand; who wants to be on the defensive all the time? Most groups of co-workers there tends to be hazings and people joke around.

This is not to say there aren't real cases of Latino discrimination, I'm just saying that the wording used in the accusations of the article is extremely vague.

When someone mentions 'sexual harassment', that can mean everything from a long term pattern of physiological torture under duress with physical attacks accompanying it (extreme cases of sexual harassment), to someone being asked out a single time in a less than appropriate manner but with no duress or obligation (maybe a co-worker though there was something and he misinterpreted a single time while drunk at the x-mass party but instantly backed out upon rejection... that too is sexual harassment).

Both of these are 'sexual harassment'. One of them would warrant a VERY strong response. The other... not so much so. I think some people when they read sexual harrasment think one extreme while others think the other. But this only leads to people talking over each other without understanding. Using words with specific and concrete definitions is necessary for communication.

At some point in the last century, words related to victims and attacks became so open ended that it's really hard to understand what is being discussed.


> I've seen first hand other Latinos completely over-react and get defensive in situations which were completely uncalled for.

> Someone makes a joke about Mexican food and they feel 'belittled and insulted'. Then because they are so insanely sensitive and tend to take everything personally, other co workers ignore them. To me, that's the logical conclusion of what happens to people with a victim mentality. I'm Latino and feel they were wrong for being sensitive. Am I wrong too?

https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/10/02/different-worlds/ (read it!)

This is a personality difference. Who's wrong depends on the unknowable intentions of the different people you interact with. In a more practical sense, who's wrong depends on who gets better results from their interactional style. You seem to be saying that these other people are suffering penalties for their heightened sensitivity; on that analysis, you're right and they're wrong.

> Both of these are 'sexual harassment'. One of them would warrant a VERY strong response. The other... not so much so. I think some people when they read sexual harrasment think one extreme while others think the other. But this only leads to people talking over each other without understanding. Using words with specific and concrete definitions is necessary for communication.

> At some point in the last century, words related to victims and attacks became so open ended that it's really hard to understand what is being discussed.

These terms are intentionally vague for diplomatic, coalition-building purposes, in the same way that an important treaty between premodern Russia and China was drawn up in Latin, so that the treaty could avoid clearly stating anything that either side didn't want to see in there. Clear communication isn't the goal, it's something that people are actively trying to frustrate.

Compare this discussion from Mary Beard's SPQR:

>> The first word of the second book of Livy's History, which begins the story of Rome after the monarchy, is 'free'; and the words 'free' and 'freedom' are together repeated eight times in the first few lines alone. The idea that the Republic was founded on libertas rings loudly throughout Roman literature...

>> But how was Roman liberty to be defined? That was a controversial question for the next 800 years, through the Republic and into the one-man rule of the Roman Empire when political debate often turned on how far libertas could ever be compatible with autocracy. Whose liberty was at stake? How was it most effectively defended? How could conflicting version of the freedom of the Roman citizen be resolved?

>> All, or most, Romans would have counted themselves as upholders of libertas, just as today most of us uphold 'democracy'. But there were repeated and intense conflicts over what that meant.


Right, there isn't enough evidence provided to actually verify or judge any of these. In itself they are pretty useless anonymous claims.


> So EVERYONE knew and they still disagreed with their point of view. Warned them that accusations without proof like that would get serious. Does that make them evil?

Sometimes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_and_Colorado_serial...


Good companies have policies that any good-faith reports of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, fraud or abuse at the company, or any other similar event _shall not_ be subject to any bad consequences or disciplinary action, even if the complaint/report is not found to be substantiated or serious enough for the organization to take action on. No retaliation for people raising issues.

Google either doesn't have such a policy or it isn't followed, as shown by the linked article.


Google already has no retaliation rules, but such rules can't rule out negative consequences which would befall them regardless. Otherwise you would encourage low performing individuals to accuse their manager of something before the manager pip's them.


You have a good point. I agree that there should not be retaliation for raising issues. But I think it is also important to realise that when an investigation has taken place, and the conclusion is that nothing can be done about it given lack of evidence, going against the company is not the right approach either. In the quotes that I provided, the only case of retaliation was really a warning to stop after a lot of people looked into the accusation.


So, because there is no permanent evidence of the harm, is the reporter "evil"? ("Evil" is your term.)


No, I don't think reporting is evil. I quoted the word evil because the article mentioned sarcastically Google's motto. I think raising these issues is important, but saying things like: “It’s been infuriating to watch Google make statements about the alleged things the company does to fight and prevent discrimination and retaliation" is wrong when the company is clearly trying to address them.


It was investigated and there was no harm?


Back in 2007 Google was apparently a decent place to work, not much going on politically and mostly developer-led: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=75470. In 2009 it was about the same, but managers started complaining: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=552976. In 2010 a lot more managers were hired. In 2011 Google started killing products and developers lost a lot of credibility: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2557672. Managers suddenly gained the upper hand and started pushing revenue as the bottom line. The smarter or well-connected developers started leaving: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3700277. By 2013, 20% time was "dead": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6223466.

I didn't follow Google workplace standards much after that, but my general impression is it continued declining, more management pressure and relatively lower pay/benefits for new workers. Then we started getting leaks from inside Google in 2017 and life at Google has been "miserable" since then. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20684463)

The only obvious solution is to start firing people; Google has been in growth mode for a long time and managers perform their jobs a lot better when they're worried about themselves. This could happen naturally as a reaction to ad revenue flattening out or maybe Google will shift to a high-turnover culture like Amazon.


For this to be meaningful in any way I'd love to see some statistics as to how many people Google employs (broken down by gender/cultural background/etc.) and then see their complaint rate. I'd then like to see it compared against other companies.

While the anecdotal evidence is salacious it's not really useful in determining whether or not they're "evil".


This boycott and these comments are being orchestrated by Liz Fong-Jones. Liz Fong-Jones is a transexual activist, and an offender in sexual harassment themselves. I'm posting this on a throwaway for obvious reasons.

I worked at Google from 2010-2014. Over the summer of 2012 or 2013, I joined an Eve Online "Corporation" (guild) with Liz, and another one of my coworkers. It was a crazy place. Liz had a fanatical hatred of "Rape Jokes". Rape was not a joke to Liz. Rape was a fantasy that Liz was all too happy to describe in great detail. The corporation was "Kink Friendly". I'm embarrassed to say that that was part of the appeal to me - I'm happy to tie my girlfriends up as part of roleplay. Liz's fantasies were a great deal more detailed and a great deal less fantasy oriented than I would like. I left that corporation after a while, though not as quickly as I should have. I was young, I was confused, and based on the success of her "Real Names Considered Harmful" letter, I believed that Liz was a credible, accredited leader.

The same coworker who introduced me to Liz would, several times, invite me to join them for lunch at "Club Z". I declined - Partially because something seemed off, mostly because I was satisfied with the lunches at Google. I would only later find out that "Club Z" is not a lunch place - It's a (rather infamous) Gay Bathhouse here in Seattle.

While I was in that corp, though, I was sexually assaulted by a former friend. About a year I knew and had considered a friend had some out as bi, and had "Confessed their love" to me... by forcefully kissing me at a party. I was embarrassed, I was not interested, and I made it pretty politely clear, to which they reacted badly. Now they had come out as "trans", and received an outpouring of support from mutual friends. Said friends convinced me to give them another chance. At their urging, I agreed to hang out with this friend, at a "Movie Night". A movie night which no-one else showed to. Said former friend pressured me to try weed, which I had never done before. Okay. Red flag. I was dumb, and I regret it. Said friend offered to show me his "Uncle's" stash of Child Pornography. I already suspected they were a pedo, but, yeah. Should have run right then, was drunk. Said "friend" then tried to force himself on me. I am not bigger, but I am strong, and I forced them off. I was also drunk, and spent several uncomfortable hours waiting to sober up, repeatedly fending off unwanted advances.

Anyway: Being dumb, having listened to too much of the bullshit excuses, I went to the only Trans* person I knew to talk about it. Liz. They told me how much I was in the wrong, how important it was for Trans* people to explore their sexuality, and called me a monster for not having responded positively. "What if a biological woman had hit on you?" - The tired old canard was trotted out.

I do not have any direct evidence of wrongdoing by Liz Fong-Jones. I only know that they hang out with, and are supported by, people who were long overdue for censure. People who were repeatedly able to convince others that they were the victims despite their clear aggression.


Not to belittle you but the level of WTF in this comment makes me check out. If you’re serious you could start by gaining some credibility here...

> This boycott and these comments are being orchestrated by Liz Fong-Jones.

Do you have _any_ evidence for this? The comments seem fairly normal HN to me.


If this former friend is still walking the streets please file a police report in regards to the child pornography. I know its difficult to put yourself out there but it needs to be done.


I'm sorry for what happened to you and it is horrible. There are no excuses for said behavior. Some of the events sound possibly criminal and should be reported to the authorities.

That said, and especially since you end your statement with "I do not have any direct evidence of wrongdoing by [name]", I think it is unfair to name and shame here without evidence. You should remove the name from the story.


Sounds like you got out of an unhealthy situation all around.

When working at google take advantage of their tech stack and stay away from socializing.

Sex prefs shouldn't really be that important. So whatever you did/didn't do or why you wanted fong's approval in the first place shouldn't matter.

besides 2014 was 5 years ago and him


[flagged]


Seems like we are learning by doing how this stuff should be handled. Some people in the gray areas are going to get burned, some complaints will be considered too much, and eventually we will get through the white supremacist patriarchal backlog and move on to some other new cultural change process, hopefully carbon.


Wow so let me see if I get what you're saying: The ends justify the means. Want to make an omelette, gotta break a few eggs. And by the way, the real civil rights issue we should be focusing on is global warming?


Environmental degradation always has a civil rights dimension.

You think the folks that make money off treating the earth like shit want to live in the filth they create?


> Some people in the gray areas are going to get burned,

The ends justify the means right?


[flagged]


Taking HN threads further into generic ideological flamewar is against the site guidelines, so downvotes and flags are correct. Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and not doing that anymore?

Edit: on closer inspection, this account has been using HN primarily for ideological battle and ignored our requests to stop, so I've banned it. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.


I normally don't do specific call outs, but he's been doing this for months now and hasn't shown any attempt to stop. That's why I try to avoid engaging with his posts and just move on.


I'll bite:

> years ago where the brainwashing kicked in

Brainwashing is a value judgement, an insult directed at the opposing point of view.

> any normal person anywhere in the world who would honestly tell me this sounds like a well adjusted sane individual who wouldn't in all probability be a human headache for everyone around them?

Wait, actually this whole sentence is just entirely an insult. You've completely dismissed any opposition as 'insane' or 'abnormal' or 'not well adjusted'.

It's not how you engage in rhetoric that invites a response. It's one thing to say, "I disagree with these ideas, like using LatinX, I find it makes my life more challenging. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something." It's another to say that opposing viewpoints are insane.


You’re going to have to do better if you’re actually interested in having a real conversation. Everything from your username to your parlance screams troll, even if there was a well thought position you were attempting to stake out underneath it all, it’s undermined completely by your approach.

If you’re not simply gaslighting with the complaint about flags and downvotes I would recommend trying to start afresh with a new username, and approach comments with a logical argument that tries hard to avoid flamebaiting and point scoring.

There’s something to be said for “even Google gets this wrong”, why it is all so hard, and maybe structural issues which guarantee someone will always be aggrieved in the end. Maybe you want argue Google has overcorrected to badly that they have created a whole new kind of hostile workplace.

But the conversation is lost if you want to argue around terms like “wokeness”.


It’s impossible to downvote so objectively and even-handedly as to not offend socially conservative message board commenters. One wonders if it is even worth trying, since the level of neuroticism about “censorship” when someone disagrees them will expand to encompass and exceed whatever your level of “rationality” is.


Reasons why you are getting down voted.

1) A comment talking about being down voted (which is amusing considering your username). This is enough to get a down vote in my book. 2) An immature post. There are numerous signs, including the LOL at the end, that it's immature. 3) Fairly insulting to people who come here. 4) Your original comment is constantly begging the question. The reality is, you aren't interested in a discussion. 5) "I'm just stating an unpopular opinion without any trolling, spam, or personal attacks" No, you aren't "just stating an unpopular opinion" if this keeps happening to you. If this happens to you constantly, it's because you are wrong. Your opinion of your comments is wrong for the community.


"1) Reasons why you are getting down voted. A comment talking about being down voted (which is amusing considering your username)."

nah dude you can downvote me a million times. I'm just asking politely why I'm and other people I see just stating unpopular opinions are being flagged, which is a more serious measure I hoped would be reserved for things a bit less subjective than 'immaturity'. But if it isn't nbd, I just hope to clarify things so everybody knows from now on. I mean its not like theres clear completely nonvague objective rules and spelled out consequences carved in stone in the easiest to find places.

"This is enough to get a down vote in my book. 2) An immature post. There are numerous signs, including the LOL at the end, that it's immature. 3) Fairly insulting to people who come here. 4)"

I've never personally insulted anyone here....as far as I remember. If you mean indirectly than well thats so subjective everybody here indirectly insults someone all the time.

"Your original comment is constantly begging the question. The reality is, you aren't interested in a discussion."

Not true, I am happy to engage anyone who wants to debate me. Like now, my history is open book for you to freely browse, show me something in it clearly refutes this, it actually stands as a clear testament to the opposite. If I am wrong on the hard facts I will acquiese. If you think its pointless well isn't all/most discussion on threads like these pointless?

" 5) "I'm just stating an unpopular opinion without any trolling, spam, or personal attacks" No, you aren't "just stating an unpopular opinion" if this keeps happening to you. If this happens to you constantly, it's because you are wrong. Your opinion of your comments is wrong for the community."

speaking of dismissing arguments.


0) The obvious troll in the username.


"I identify as a LatinX female" miss me with that imperialist shit. we're latino and latina.


Thats the funny thing. You're basically erasing the Spanish language with the nongendered approach of English by using the term.


The sentence is written in English, there is no Spanish language in the sentence to be erased.




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