Last week, a Google employee posted a memo to the company’s internal message board alleging she was discriminated against while pregnant—and that she wouldn’t be returning to Google after maternity leave. According to Motherboard, nearly 10,000 employees at Google have since seen the memo, which is aptly titled “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why.”
“I’m sharing this statement because I hope it informs needed change in how Google handles discrimination, harassment and retaliation,” the employee wrote. “This is a long read, but the details are important in understanding the often drawn-out, isolating and painful experience of victims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Also, if anything similar has happened to you, know that you’re not alone.”
In the memo, she details several instances of her manager making discriminatory comments about pregnant women. Upon reporting the behavior to HR, the employee found that her manager started treating her differently. “Almost immediately upon my discussions with HR, my manager’s demeanor towards me changed, and drastically,” she wrote. “I endured months of angry chats and emails, vetoed projects, her ignoring me during in-person encounters, and public shaming. The final blow was finding out my manager was sharing reputation-damaging remarks with other more senior Googlers not on my [product area], and actively interviewing candidates to replace me.”
The memo has made its way to multiple internal message boards across the company, Motherboard reports, spawning countless memes that show support for the employee in question. This follows a particularly tumultuous period at Google sparked by the company-wide walkout in November to protest sexual harassment and reports that Google had paid millions to employees accused of sexual misconduct. Since then, several prominent Google employees have left the company, including walkout organizers Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, both of whom said they faced retaliation for speaking out.
In a statement to Fast Company, Google denounced retaliatory behavior but didn’t directly address the allegations. “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy,” a spokesperson wrote. “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.”