Google accused in lawsuit of excluding white and Asian men in hiring to boost diversity

SAN FRANCISCO — Google has been slapped with a lawsuit by a former recruiter who alleges the Internet giant fired him for complaining about hiring practices to boost diversity that he says discriminated against white and Asian men.

Filed in San Mateo County Superior Court in January by Arne Wilberg, who worked as a recruiter for YouTube, the suit alleges parent company Google set quotas for hiring underrepresented minorities.

Wilberg also alleges that management deleted emails and other records of diversity requirements. He says he was fired in November for complaining to his managers and human resources about the "illegal and discriminatory hiring practices."

More from USA Today:
Google engineer says he was fired for fighting racism, sexism
Former Google preschool teacher alleges gender pay discrimination
Ex-Google engineer Damore sues alleging discrimination against white, conservative men

Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said the company will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.

"We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity," she said in an emailed statement. "At the same time, we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles, as this helps us hire the best people, improve our culture, and build better products."

The lawsuit comes amid heated debate over the technology industry's efforts to increase the low numbers of women, African Americans and Hispanics in its ranks.

Facing pressure to diversity its workforce, Google began publicly sharing data on the racial and gender make-up of its ranks in 2014. The Silicon Valley company's attempts to re-engineer its mostly white-and-Asian male demographics to include more women and people of color have put Google in the cross hairs of the nation's culture wars.

Former Google engineer James Damore sued Google in January, alleging the company discriminates against conservatives and white men. Damore was fired last year for distributing a memo that argued Google's efforts to increased diversity were misguided, in part, because of the biological differences between men and women.

Some Google employees who advocate for diversity allege the company is not doing enough to protect them from a harassment campaign by their co-workers following Damore's firing that has subjected them to hateful comments and violent threats — and one former employee has sued for pushing back against racism and sexism. Google also has been targeted by a lawsuit and a Department of Labor investigation into whether it underpays women.

The lawsuit brought by Wilberg was first reported by Bloomberg News.