Google, A Firm Repeatedly Accused Of Racial Discrimination In The Past, Is Now Facing Allegations Of A Heavy Drink Culture

A former Google employee who resigned in 2015 has publicly criticized his former employer in a Reddit post alleging a “toxic” drinking culture within his team at the time that included sexual assault.

Donald King worked as a Google software engineer from 2008 to 2015.

King posted publicly on Reddit last week alleging he experienced a toxic drinking culture and sexual assault during those years.

Liz Fong-Jones, an Asian engineer who worked at Google at the same time as King, wrote on Twitter that she could “personally corroborate many of the details in his story.

In a thread, she said: Let me tell you, it is not a good look when your cis white male manager ‘encourages’ you to attend a drinking crawl pub games thing “to make connections” across the org, when you are a trans woman of color who is UNDER 21.”

Although Google declined to comment on the record about King’s account to the Insider, Donald spoke directly to the outlet about his experience.

POCIT has contacted Google for a response but has not yet received a statement.

In his post, published eight years ago, he started off by saying: ” I (41M, gay; this will be relevant) worked at Google from 2008 to 2015 as a Site Reliability Engineer out of the San Francisco satellite office.”

He then goes on to talk about how much he earned at the firm – a pretty good $100,000.

Although he complained at the fact that he wasn’t earning as much as others in his field he said his real reason for writing the thread was because of the toxic culture at the place which allegedly included heavy drinking.

Describing an in-office party in 2008, King wrote: “All the activity was focused around drinking heavily all day long, in conference rooms that were set up as makeshift bars.”

“I know of at least one person who got fired for getting so drunk he threw a conference room chair through a wall, while others puked in the work bathrooms,” he wrote.

Speaking to the Insider, he said: “The drinking culture was out of control,” adding,”A big part of the problem was I didn’t have any point of reference because this was the first Silicon Valley company I’d worked for.”

King, who is gay, wrote that some employees at the time displayed a “deep discomfort” around LGBTQ people. He wrote that managers encouraged “unhealthy levels of stress” while facilitating a “binge-drinking culture.”

In the wake of complaints from its staff and subsequent to King’s departure, Google pledged to improve the way it handles sexual-harassment allegations, and it ended a policy of forced arbitration for those making complaints.

Racism allegations

Ross LaJeunesse, who quit as Google’s head of international relations in May 2019, wrote a Medium blog post in which he said that bullying and racist and homophobic overtones in meetings were common and that he had been pushed out. 

Although Google had reportedly never put out a statement on the claims – they did deny him being pushed out.

Back in 2017 Qichen Zhang spoke with the Guardian days after a white male engineer at Google sparked an international uproar with a memo criticizing diversity initiatives, arguing that white men are victims of discrimination and that women are underrepresented in tech because they are biologically less suited to engineering and leadership positions.

While another woman – a black woman – who worked as a specialist at Google for several years told the Guardian that discrimination and prejudice impacted her job on a daily basis.

“I felt like I didn’t belong nor did anybody want me to belong,” said the woman, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation by Google.

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Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.

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