Lawsuit alleges YouTube hiring practices discriminated against white and Asian men

Posted March 04, 2018

A former YouTube employee has accused the video streaming giant of allegedly limiting its White and Asian men hires as a means to ensure their workforce is more diverse. The lawsuit claims YouTube recruiters past year were told not to interview applicants who weren't black, female, or Hispanic, and to "purge entirely" applications from potential employees who didn't fit those categories.

It is the latest diversity row to hit Google, coming in the same week as a separate lawsuit claiming that a toxic "bro culture" discriminated against women.

"We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity", Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano told Bloomberg.

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The recruiter, Arne Wilberg, claimed that he was sacked in November 2017 because he complained about the hiring practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The lawsuit, filed in January in California's San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges that Wilberg took his concerns about the company's hiring practices to human resources; a decision that led to his termination in November 2017. Former Google employee James Damore had earlier claimed that he was sacked for writing an anti-diversity memo which caused controversy.

Wilberg claimed that YouTube instructed its recruiters to "cancel interviews with applicants who weren't female, black or Hispanic". The former staffer said Google - YouTube's parent company - invoked "clear and irrefutable policies" meant to exclude white and Asian men in hopes of increasing the brand's diversity last spring.

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The lawsuit filed by Mr. Wilberg and people familiar with the hiring practices allege that since at least 2016, YouTube recruiters had hiring quotas or targets for "diversity candidates", including black, Hispanic and female candidates.

"The stated objective of these policies was to achieve "Diversity" in the Google workforce and to manage public relations problems arising from the under-representation of women and certain minority groups in the Google workforce, particularly in engineering positions". Wilberg claims recruiters were told to "purge" any "non-diverse employees" from a hiring pool of software engineers. In one quarter, for example, recruiters were expected to hire five new employees each, and those hires had to be diversity candidates, the lawsuit claims.

According to the Verge, Google's workforce is now 69% male and 91% white or Asian.

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Although Google initially fought not to disclose the demographic makeup of its workforce, the company was the first big company in Silicon Valley to release an annual diversity report, which is now common practice among tech firms.