Ex-Google manager alleges in new complaint she was discriminated against for being pregnant

(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A former Google manager filed state and federal complaints against the tech giant this week, alleging she was retaliated against for standing up for a pregnant co-worker and that higher-ups tried to push her out of the company when she became pregnant.

Chelsey Glasson filed complaints, obtained by The Seattle Times, with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Washington state’s Human Rights Commission. Glasson is a mother of two and worked at Google in the Seattle area for five years, rising to the level of user research lead and manager before resigning in August. She claims to be behind the then-anonymous memo that went viral within the company “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why.”

Glasson set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for her goal of “combatting pregnancy discrimination together.” She has raised $4,275 out of a $300,000 goal after the page went live in mid-August. Glasson, now a user researcher at Facebook per her LinkedIn, wrote she plans to “move forward with legal action against Google for the pregnancy discrimination and retaliation that I experienced.”

“How I was treated by Google, while fighting pregnancy complications that were life-threatening to both me and my daughter, was one of the most difficult experiences of my life,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page.

We reached out to Google for comment and we will update this post if we hear back.

Glasson received promotions and strong performance reviews for years, but that changed when she reported derogatory comments a director made about a pregnant co-worker to human resources in April 2018, per the complaint. Glasson alleges HR told her not to worry about the situation because the company had systems in place to protect employees from retaliation.

Around that time, Glasson became pregnant with her second child. The stress of the “hostile environment” was affecting her health, so she decided to switch teams.

A vice president convinced her to stay on the team, telling her the director was leaving. But that turned out not to be the case. Glasson alleged the director was trying to “performance manage” her out of the company through negative feedback and reviews.

A few months later she took on a management role with lesser responsibility on a different team. In October 2018, five months before Glasson’s baby was due, her managers told her she would not be allowed to take on management responsibilities until after her maternity leave, saying she would “‘stress the team’ and ‘rock the boat,’” per the complaint.

“Prohibiting a pregnant employee from performing management duties because she would be starting maternity leave in five months is unlawful discrimination,” she wrote in the complaint obtained by the Times.

Following a diagnosis of a life-threatening pregnancy omplication, Glasson planned to go on bed rest and start her maternity leave early. She allegedly received some pushback from her managers.

While on maternity leave, in May of this year, she received a poor performance review. When her leave ended in August she resigned from the company, around the same time she published the viral internal memo.

The tech industry has been under a microscope for issues of gender discrimination in recent years. Last year, Google employees worldwide staged a series of walkouts protesting how the company has dealt with sexual harassment cases.