Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz and senior counsel Hannah Alejandro co-authored an Op-ed in the Huffington Post titled, “Discrimination isn’t just a Difference of Opinion – it’s a Violation of the Law.” The article analyzes the legal arguments surrounding former Google engineer James Damore’s firing, following the public release of his intra-corporate memo in which he asserted that women were biologically inferior to men, and argued against the company’s diversity efforts, utilizing offensive and debunked stereotypes about women.
The Op-ed rejects the assertion that Damore is entitled to any First Amendment protections, given his “at-will” employment status, and the fact that he worked for a private employer. Katz and Alejandro also reject Damore’s argument that his memo was workplace organizing – and therefore protected as labor activity. Katz and Alejandro stated, “This argument profoundly distorts basic principles of employment law, and should not be legitimized by any legal body.” Katz and Alejandro note: “Damore’s memo cobbled together an array of pseudoscientific claims about the innate abilities of women, including the outdated, offensive myth that women are biologically more neurotic and less inclined to leadership skills, to argue that Google should abandon efforts to address its staggering gender gap." Rather than take Damore’s advice, the company terminated his employment, explaining that the memo violated company policy by promoting harmful gender stereotypes. Damore now argues that the law prohibits Google from firing him to enforce its anti-discrimination policy. He is wrong – the law does not protect discrimination as free speech or workplace organizing, nor should it. Title VII, in force for more than 50 years, in fact requires employers to take action against the kind of hostile work environment created by Damore’s sexist conduct.”
Read the full story here.