Asian-American Loretta Lee is filing a lawsuit against Google for getting slapped, groped, and sexually harassed while the company did nothing to stop it.
Loretta, a promising talent, worked for Google as a software engineer for eight years but being a female in a white-male-dominated company had major downsides. With the growing strength of the #MeToo movement, Loretta is letting her story come to light.
She suffered daily sexual harassment ranging from minor incidents, like receiving lewd comments, ogling, and getting Nerf darts shot at her, to much more serious problems like being slapped by a drunk co-worker at a company gathering.
But the serious incidents don’t stop there. Loretta reported that her drinks were often spiked with alcohol and she once had a co-worker message her for a “horizontal hug”. In another incident, a male co-worker stopped by her apartment and refused to leave. One day she found a colleague she didn’t know under her desk. When he was discovered, he told her, “You’ll never guess what I was doing!” The next day, the same man pulled her by her nametag, asked for her name, and grazed her breast.
“The incident with the co-worker under her desk unnerved her. Loretta had never spoken to that co-worker before. She was frightened by his comment and believed he may have installed some type of camera or similar device under her desk.”
— Loretta’s Lawyer
Originally, when her supervisor and HR heard about the incidents they urged her to report it. But Loretta didn’t want to because she feared of being labeled an “informant” and be ostracized.
But after HR branded her as “uncooperative” she was forced to report the incidents. However, even after footage of the incident was found, she was told by HR that her claims were unsubstantiated. After her claims, more and more of her work were not accepted and she was eventually fired in February 2016 for “poor performance.”
Now Loretta is taking things to the Santa Clara County Superior Court. She is not the only one to file sexual harassment and discrimination claims against the company recently. Meanwhile, in response, a Google spokesperson told the Mercury News that, “We have strong policies against harassment in the workplace and review every complaint. We take action when we find violations, including termination of employment.”
Loretta is seeking an unspecified amount in excess of $25,000 for the company’s failure to prevent sexual harassment, gender discrimination, disability discrimination (the company wouldn’t accommodate her after being in a car accident), wrongful termination and retaliation.