Google and James Damore, an engineer it fired in 2017, have agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against the tech giant, a quiet end to a loud case that began with a controversial memo in which Damore criticized the company’s efforts to improve the diversity of its workforce.
“This matter is dismissed in its entirety,” Judge Brian Walsh wrote in a Thursday order with the Superior Court in Santa Clara, the Silicon Valley county where Google is headquartered, after Damore and Google “agreed to end the case … between them.” Details of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
Damore’s 3,300-word memo in 2017 asserted women are underrepresented in the technology industry not because of bias and discrimination but because “preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes.” Google fired Damore, with Chief Executive Sundar Pichai saying parts of Damore’s memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”
Damore became something of a right-wing cause célèbre. The US National Labor Relations Board said Google’s firing was legal, though. Damore sued Google in 2018, arguing that he was punished for heterodox political views and for being a white male.
Google didn’t respond to requests for comment, and Damore’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, didn’t comment on details of the agreement to close Damore’s case. But Dhillon believes the case has had repercussions in corporate America.
“I’ve heard from people on the board of many corporations about it,” she said. “I know that many HR departments have taken it seriously and tried to understand some of the unique rights we have in California about worker speech and beliefs.”
But Google hasn’t stopped trying to push for a more diverse workplace with more women and people of color. It detailed some progress this week toward its diversity goals.