A former Google engineer is suing the tech giant, saying she was wrongfully terminated after years of sexual and physical harassment — including finding a male employee under her desk, being slapped by a male colleague, and having a drink “spiked.”
Loretta Lee — who worked at the Silicon Valley staple from 2008 t0 2016 — contends in her lawsuit, obtained by TheWrap, that a myriad of transgressions underscored “bro culture” rampant at the company. Lee said a male coworker texted her, asking if she wanted a “horizontal hug.” She also claimed male colleagues “spiked her drinks with whiskey and laughed about it,” and that she was slapped across the face by a coworker for “no apparent reason” at a holiday party.
At one point shortly before she was fired, Lee says she returned to her desk to find a male coworker lurking underneath. “You’ll never know what I was doing,” the man said, according to the lawsuit. Lee suspected he was installing surveillance equipment. Google HR cited Lee for “failure to cooperate” after hesitating to report the incident, according to the lawsuit. Lee said she feared repercussions from her coworkers. The following day, Lee claimed a coworker fondled her breasts at work.
“We dispute the allegations made in Ms. Lee’s complaint,” a Google spokesperson told TheWrap. “We have strong policies against harassment in the workplace and review every complaint we receive. We take action when we find violations — including termination of employment.”
Lee said she was fired in 2016 for “performance issues,” despite receiving strong reviews. Lee said the toxic work environment was exacerbated after taking time off in 2015 for her mental health and after being injured in a car accident soon after she returned. She is suing for $25,000 in damages from discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination. The lawsuit was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.