Google asked employees who complained of racism to take medical leave

Google allegedly advised its employees complaining about racism and sexism within the company to go on medical leave and take mental health counselling.

Benjamin Cruz, a former staff, told NBC News that in 2019 when they reported the incident of a colleague telling them that their “skin was much darker than expected”, Google’s human resources suggested that they go on leave and move to a new role upon return.

Cruz, who uses the pronouns they/them, claimed that when they took up the company on its offer for a new position, their application for each role was turned down till they were forced to quit.

“After I made that complaint, my work started getting pushed out from under me, but my team acted like everything was fine,” Cruz told NBC News.

Google has so far not commented on the allegations levelled by Cruz.

The report by NBC is the latest in the line of accusations by several former and current Google employees who alleged discrimination within the organisation.

More recently, the tech giant saw a widespread backlash after it pushed out Timnit Gebru and April Christina Curley, two prominent Black women known for their advocacy for increased diversity in the tech industry.

Ms Gebru, in December, had said that she was fired after she openly spoke about her doubts regarding Google’s commitment to diversity and inclusion while Ms Curly told NBC that in her six years at Google, she did not receive a raise or promotion. She further said that she was assigned nine different managers during the tenure and she complained against two of them for mistreating her and her team.

Subsequently in 2019, a manager asked her which of her teammates would she sleep with, she told the network. “I gave him a lot of attitude after that, and it went downhill from there,” she said.

While Google refused to comment on Ms Gebru’s ousting, it said in a statement that it disagreed with Ms Curley’s characterisation of the department.

NBC in its report found that when Ms Gebru and Ms Curley complained about racial and gender discrimination to HR, they were advised to undergo mental health counselling or take leave.

At least nine other current and former Google employees received similar advice from the company’s human resource department, reported NBC.

In a statement, Google affirmed its commitment to support employees who raised concerns about workplace treatment.

“We have a well-defined process for how employees can raise concerns and we work to be extremely transparent about how we handle complaints,” Jennifer Rodstrom, a Google spokeswoman was quoted by NBC. “All concerns reported to us are investigated rigorously, and we take firm action against employees who violate our policies.”