Google had to settle a £4,000 racial discrimination case with a contractor

A contractor working on Google Maps was harassed and racially profiled on the job

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Earlier this year Google settled a £4,000 racial discrimination case earlier in 2018, it has been revealed.

The settlement, which obliged the claimant not to discuss the affair with the press, was brought to light after the claimant spoke to The Guardian, prompted by the recent Google staff walkout over sexual misconduct.

The case came about after the claimant, a UK citizen originally from Morocco, was contracted by Google to work on the Expedite project for Google Maps, which involved using WiFi in shopping centres to help users determine their exact location. As such, he spent a lot of time in shopping centres and often found himself being harassed, racially profiled, or labelled as a terrorist by security and shop staff.

He claims the terms of his job forbade the claimant from letting security staff know he worked for Google, and Google repeatedly declined his requests to be able to wear a badge to identify his role or inform shopping centres ahead of time that he would be visiting.  As such he was repeatedly subject to racial abuse for his 10-month tenure. While his white colleagues were also stopped occasionally, none were subject to the same abuse he was. Google's official statement on the matter, however, states "All employees and contractors [...] are instructed to be forthright about the fact that they're working on behalf of Google".

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While the majority of the shopping centres surveyed were in the UK, several were in Europe. It was in one of these European shopping centres that the claimant was accused of being a terrorist. He was also pulled aside in several and questioned publicly. When the claimant reported this abuse to his supervisors, he claims an offer of a further contract was withdrawn.

Defending its behaviour, a spokesperson for Google said that since Wi-Fi information was publicly available, it was not obliged to give advance notice to shopping centres if its researchers were visiting. Google has a rocky relationship with its employees — between the aforementioned walkout, its affiliation with dubious projects, and an ongoing diversity problem in tech, it's clear the company still has a way to go before becoming a safe environment for all its employees.

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