Google Faces Legal Heat: Black Deaf Employee Alleges Discrimination

By Quincy Cahilig

Mar 14, 2024 06:37 PM EDT

Jalon Hall, a black deaf employee of Google, filed a legal complaint in the US Northern District of California, which brought attention to claims of discrimination based on her disability and race within the tech giant. 

Hall claims that despite praising Google for embodying its commitment to inclusivity, the company broke its promises regarding accommodations and sign-language interpreters.

As the first and only black deaf hire at Google, Hall alleges that the company restricted her access to sign-language interpreters shortly after joining. She describes Google's management environment as racially charged and hostile in her complaint, as reported by the New York Post.

Broken Promises

Despite assurances from Google's recruitment team of full accommodation and sign language interpreters, Hall asserts that these promises were not fulfilled. She describes instances of discrimination, such as how a manager called her an "aggressive black deaf woman" and advised her to work in sales rather than speak up.

Hall's experience working for Google has been difficult, despite the company highlighting her contributions to diversity and inclusion on social media sites like LinkedIn and Instagram, per Wired. Allegedly excluded from roundtable discussions and denied promotions due to what she perceives as biased evaluation, Hall's career progression has been hindered.

Google employees walk off the job to protest the company's handling of sexual misconduct claims on November 1, 2018, in Mountain View, California. (Photo : Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

A significant grievance highlighted in the lawsuit was Hall's assignment to enforce YouTube's child safety regulations without interpreter assistance, impeding her ability to fulfill her duties effectively. Struggling to meet required video review quotas within her workday led to frustration and a sense of career stagnation.

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Despite enduring these grievances, Hall remains at Google, having filed three HR complaints before taking legal action. 

Google's response has been to move for dismissal of the complaint, citing the lateness in bringing forth the claims. Nonetheless, Jalon Hall's case underscores the challenges faced by black and disabled employees at Google, who represent a minority within the company's workforce.

In addition to seeking personal compensation, Hall demands that Google implement policies to ensure future hires receive adequate accommodation and equal opportunities akin to those offered to non-black deaf employees with disabilities. Her fight against prejudice highlights the necessity for inclusion and diversity in business settings.

Tech Giants Cut Down DEI Efforts

After George Floyd's murder in 2020, Google and other tech businesses developed new black employee support programs. The tech giant pledged to increase underrepresented groups in leadership by 30% by 2025, double black nonsenior employees by 2025, address representation issues in hiring, retention, and promotions, and improve black employees' mental and physical health.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs plummeted by 2023. Comparing DEI job listings to last year, they dropped 44%, with a 23% decline by November. This compares with the growth of 2020-2021, which is 30%. Tech giants Google and Meta have cut DEI personnel and projects, per CNBC.

Third-party organizations dependent on tech giants also felt the impact. The trend significantly shifts from the heightened commitments following George Floyd's death. Experts warn that these cuts jeopardize progress, especially in AI development, risking further power imbalances for both employees and consumers.

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