Viral leaked Google memo reveals dark side of alleged “generous” parental leave

While it was first posted on an internal message board, a viral leaked Google memo details a previous employee’s allegations of pregnancy-related discrimination, harassment, as well as retaliation.

The memo writer shared that allegedly, a manager made sexist and derogatory remarks regarding a coworker who may have been pregnant before retaliating following a related HR complaint.

And when the memo writer herself became pregnant, she shared how things got even worse.

Image via flickr

Earlier this month, Motherboard re-published a memo written by a Google employee with the title, “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why.”

The memo has since gone viral internally at Google casting a dark shadow over Google who is known for its allegedly “generous” paid parental leave policies.

The author of the viral memo (whose name was redacted by Motherboard) was a manager at Google when she shared how her own manager “started making inappropriate comments” about a member of her team, “including that the Googler was likely pregnant again and was overly emotional and hard to work with when pregnant.” She continues on, saying:

“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 author felt like her manager was wanting her “to manage the [possibly pregnant] member of my staff off of the team.”

Image via flickr

She reveals that she reached out to HR with a complaint and “almost immediately” found that her manager’s “demeanor towards me changed, and drastically.” The employee alleges that “months of angry chats and emails, vetoed projects, her ignoring me during in-person encounters, and public shaming,” as well as that same manager “sharing reputation-damaging remarks with other more senior Googlers” and “actively interviewing candidates to replace me.”

She was then encouraged, and agreed, to find another role on the team but was told she would not be able to manage her new team “until after returning from maternity leave for fear that my maternity leave might ​‘stress the team’ and ‘rock the boat.’”

She then shares how she was diagnosed with “a pregnancy-related condition that was life-threatening” to both her and her baby which would require an early maternity leave as well as bedrest. She shared this with her new manager who then told her that “she she had just listened to an NPR segment that debunked the benefits of bedrest” and revealed a personal story about how she had ignored her doctor’s bedrest order while pregnant herself.

Image via pxhere

“My manager then emphasized in this same meeting that a management role was no longer guaranteed upon my return from maternity leave, and that she supported my interviewing for other roles at Google,” she shared.

Later, she wrote her manager announcing how she was “experiencing concerning symptoms,” and would likely be starting her leave — only to receive “an angry email letting me know I wasn’t meeting the expectations of someone at my level, nor meeting the expectations of a manager.”

She shared how HR initiated an investigation but was ultimately told “that there was no evidence of discrimination.”

The memo writer revealed that she received a performance review while in her fourth month of maternity leave that indicated “needs improvement.” She writes plainly: “I stood up for a mother on my team and doing so sent me down a path that destroyed my career trajectory at Google.”

“We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy,” a Google spokesperson responded to Motherboard in regards to the allegations.