A memo shared by a former employee at the company has been read by staff more than 10,000 times. Picture: Drew Angerer
A memo shared by a former employee at the company has been read by staff more than 10,000 times. Picture: Drew Angerer

GOOGLE: Maternity leave memo instantly goes viral

A MEMO from a former Google manager, alleging discrimination and retaliation against pregnant employees, has gone viral among staffers, reportedly being read by more than 10,000 employees at the company.

In the memo titled, "I'm Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why," a senior employee claims standing up for a mother on her team sent her down a path that destroyed her career trajectory at the internet giant.

The six-page memo comes from a high level employee of the company, who describes herself as one in a "managing team of five Googlers" on a fast track to promotion on "L6".

Five and a half years into "strong performance", the author of the memo said their manager "started making inappropriate comments" about one of her team members, suggesting she was "likely pregnant again and was overly emotional and hard to work with when pregnant".

"My manager also discussed this person's likely pregnancy-related mental health struggles and how it's difficult because you can't touch employees after they disclose such things," the woman wrote in the memo, which she posted on an internal company message board for pregnant women and mothers, which was later shared via Vice.

A screenshot of the controversial memo. Picture: Vice
A screenshot of the controversial memo. Picture: Vice

 

The woman, a high level manager, said she took the issue to HR, who told her others had reported inappropriate behaviour, and was assured it would be handled discretely.

But the woman claimed her manager's demeanour "changed, drastically".

"I endured, months of angry chats and emails, vetoed projects, her ignoring me during in-person encounters and public shaming," she said.

Complaining about being retaliated against, she said her reports were dismissed, and she was encouraged to take medical leave.

She eventually changed teams at work.

The woman shared with her new manager that her former experiences had left her deflated, but she was warned not to "rock the boat" and advised to let the situation go because of her former manager's "seniority and influence" in the Seattle and Kirkland Google Community.

"Months later, my new boss forwarded an email to her team, in which she and my former boss chummily exchanged (performance) strategies," she wrote.

The woman, who had become pregnant herself, was then diagnosed with a pregnancy-related illness that was life-threatening to both herself and her unborn child.

When discussing these new limitations with her manager, the memo claims her manager entered into a discussion with her about how she had heard a radio program, on NPR, that dismissed the benefits of "bed rest" for pregnant women.

When she did fall ill, experiencing "concerning symptoms" and took a sick day later on in her pregnancy, she was heavily reprimanded, and told she was not meeting the "expectations of a manager".

The memo has reportedly now been widely read by employees of the company, with Vice claiming the woman's story has been shared internally 10,000 times.

According to Vice, which originally published the memo, they have verified the veracity of the memo but were unable to verify the allegations within.

A spokeswomen for Google yesterday said the company has a clear policy on retaliation, and all reports are investigated fully.

"We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.

"To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation."