Founder of Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration resigned after facing retaliation and an unsafe workplace for championing caste equity
San Jose, CA. (June 2, 2022)— Today, Equality Labs, the leading Dalit civil rights organization dedicated to caste equity, condemned Google’s casteist and hostile workplace practices. Google management revealed its lack of caste competence and endangered its employees as they allowed caste bigotry and harassment to run rampant in the company.
In a series of disturbing events as reported by a searing Washington Post expose, Equality Labs’ Executive Director, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, faced discriminatory claims within Google that led to the cancellation of a Google News diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) talk on caste for April’s Dalit History Month. During this time, opponents to caste equity internally circulated disinformation about Soundararajan and Equality Labs to derail the civil rights event until its ultimate cancellation.
“The movement towards caste equity is one rooted in love, empathy and justice,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of Equality Labs. “I cannot find the words to express just how traumatic and discriminatory Google’s actions were towards its employees and myself, as the company unlawfully cancelled a talk about caste equity. . Google must address the casteism within its workforce that allows for these attacks to occur and continue.”
In response, Tanuja Gupta, a project manager at Google News, founder of Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration and an original organizer of the Google Walkout, championed more than 400 of Google’s workers to stand up to caste discrimination from Googlers who oppose caste equity. Gupta’s team members were doxxed as a result of the planned talk, and their safety was jeopardized. Google management retaliated against Gupta with an HR investigation and punitive corrective action that forced her resignation, as she no longer felt safe at the company.
“Google is woefully and willfully ill-equipped to deal with matters of caste discrimination , and that has led to the events and harm you’ve read about today. Of all the organizing I have done at this company, I think many are surprised that fighting for caste equity was the lightning rod issue that took me down,” Tanuja Gupta, former Google project manager, shared in her June 1, 2022 resignation email to over 15,000 Googlers. “So my hope is that Googlers start to understand the magnitude of this issue, and the threat that their greater understanding poses to the South Asians in power.”
In the wake of Gupta’s departure from Google, Equality Labs demands that Google News be held accountable to protect all their employees. Google must add caste as a protected category immediately. Additionally, Equality Labs is joined by labor and civil rights leaders in its call for a state and federal response to provide immediate relief to caste-oppressed workers across America.
“We are deeply concerned that Google would retaliate against people for championing safer workplaces and caste equity,” said Alvina Yeh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO. “As a labor constituency organization representing AAPI workers, we know that supporting racial justice means fighting caste discrimination. Our members have taken a strong stance for caste equity, and we know that this is an attack on the entire labor movement. We condemn the actions of Google management.”
Yousif Kelaita of the Alphabet Workers union said, “’The fight for the civil rights of caste-oppressed people is a workers’ fight. Caste-oppressed workers have the right to a safe workplace and this is why AWU is committed to this fight. Caste should be recognized as a protected class and be included in anti-harassment policies within our industry, and it should be possible to call attention to discrimination without facing retaliation’
“We are calling on Google to treat survivors with dignity and respect. This current attack on Tanuja Gupta and Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a sign that there is work to do at Google to protect survivors within the company. We view an attack on Thenmozhi as an attack against the work of the ‘me too.’ Movement and we expect Google do the right thing in this moment.” said Dani Ayers, CEO of me too. International, the organization that undergirds the work of the ‘me too.’ Movement.