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Google Hit with Another California Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

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Plaintiff Loretta Lee weakened the gender wall of tech giant Google when she was hired as a software engineer, with consistently positive performance reviews. But an alleged 'bro-culture' at Google eventually did her in…

Santa Clara, CAYet another California labor lawsuit has been filed against Google Inc. by a former software engineer who excelled at her work but, in the end felt victimized by an alleged workplace culture that objectified women. The search engine juggernaut already faces numerous lawsuits alleging discrimination and wrongful termination.

According to court documents associated with the California labor lawsuit, plaintiff Loretta Lee was one of the few female software engineers who broke the male gender wall and achieved a position with Google. In her time with the tech giant, the plaintiff asserts to have earned a string of positive performance reviews and bested multiple Google workplace coding contests.

According to the plaintiff, her work ethic, and performance was not the problem. However, the workplace culture - what she referenced in her California labor code lawsuit as a 'bro culture' - proved to be so prevalent that she eventually became conditioned to it.

Plaintiff asserts the defendant's workplace environment is toxic to women

In her California wrongful termination lawsuit, Lee asserts she was subjected to various instances of lewd comments, pranks, inappropriate text messages and other forms of behavior over a period of about seven years that combined to sexual harassment in the workplace.

What began her undoing however is alleged to have occurred in January of 2016. Lee claims in her 12-count California labor employment lawsuit that upon returning to her desk on a particular workday, she saw an unidentified male colleague - with whom she was not acquainted - emerge from under her desk and proceeded to communicate to the plaintiff that she would never discover what it was he was doing under there, or so it is alleged.

Lee, it is claimed, surmised the individual may have been installing a camera under her desk and became unnerved. Upon learning of the incident, the human resources department repeatedly recommended to Lee that she file a formal incident report. The plaintiff, however initially refused out of fear she would be labelled as an informant.

In turn, she was deemed uncooperative by the HR department until Lee finally relented and filed an incident report that was, in the end never investigated in any adequate fashion, or so it is alleged. In the meantime, Lee's fears were realized when she was further ostracized by her colleagues in the workplace.

Following an approved medical leave, the plaintiff returned to Google and resumed her workload, while at the same time requesting additional time away from the office in order to attend appointments with a physical therapist.

Plaintiff asserts she was wrongfully terminated without just cause

Google, it is alleged, refused to accommodate her request for additional time away from her job and shortly thereafter terminated her employment due to purported performance issues.

Lee was let go on February 22, 2016 and was given the green light to litigate by the California Department of Fair Employment Housing a year later. She filed her California labor lawsuit on February 16, 2018, alleging her former employer allowed a workplace environment that was hostile to women, did nothing about it, then terminated her employment after she finally spoke up about the alleged abuse.

"Google's bro-culture contributed to plaintiff's suffering frequent sexual harassment and gender discrimination, for which Google failed to take corrective action," the complaint alleges.

Google in turn rebuked the claims made by Lee and asserts there are robust policies in force with regard to harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Google also asserts it properly reviews every complaint.

The California wrongful termination lawsuit is Lee v. Google Inc. et al., Case No. 18CV323651, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara.

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