James Damore, the widely reviled former Google engineer whose 2017 firing became a cause célèbre for conservatives and far-right pundits who hate diversity quotas, has abruptly dropped his lawsuit against the company, possibly because of some quiet settlement.
It's a tale as old as the first circuit boards in Silicon Valley: a young conservative finds himself surrounded by liberal thinking at a Bay Area corporation, writes a screed about how diversity programs suck and maybe there aren't that many women in engineering because their brains don't work right, and swiftly gets fired for sending said screed around to fellow employees because advancing harmful gender stereotypes isn't very Googley. Or something like that.
Damore's infamous August 2017 memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," was quickly leaked to Gizmodo after rage ensued internally at Google/Alphabet. The 10-page document was rife with Basic Neo-Conservativism 101 talking points based on age-old gender assumptions and garbage science like "Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average," and "Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more 'feminine,' then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles."
He went on to call diversity training at the company "shaming" for conservatives like him, and he wrote that "alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business," making the absurd assertion that "conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require [sic] for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company."
So yes, at age 28, Damore had A LOT of IMPORTANT WISDOM to share that he believed to be based in fact, and as he admitted in an interview with the Guardian in November 2017, some of his astonishment at the reaction to the memo was due to the fact that he is on the autism spectrum. "I’m not necessarily the best at predicting what would be controversial," he said.
Damore could have left things at that and gone on to find employment elsewhere, but due to his sudden celebrity he was encouraged to sue Google over his firing, getting legal representation from Bay Area Republican fundraiser and friend of Laura Ingraham, Harmeet Dhillon. And meanwhile he became a darling of the alt-right, and was scheduled to speak at the absurd farce called "Free Speech Week" at UC Berkeley that was fake-organized and subsequently canceled by gay conservative garbage person Milo Yiannopoulous.
In January 2018, Dhillon filed suit on Damore's behalf against Google, claiming the company used "illegal hiring quotas" to discriminate against men, conservatives, and white people. And by October 2018, Damore was opting for arbitration with the company, with Dhillon telling the Mercury News, "They all would prefer to handle these things secretly and with no right of appeal."
Now, as the Mercury News reports, a year and a half later, Damore filed a motion in Santa Clara County Superior Court last week asking for the court to permanently dismiss his claims. Dhillon declined to comment on the motion, saying only that the terms of Damore's agreement with Google prevented her from discussing any specifics.
But speaking to Bloomberg this week, Dhillon crowed about the ongoing impacts of the lawsuit on corporate culture, saying that companies in Silicon Valley and beyond have instituted new policies to prevent "bullying" and to protect employees with alternative viewpoints. "I think the bullies pretty much run the shop over there,” she said. “Google has the most brutal ‘Lord of the Flies’ workplace for people who don’t fit it."
And as NBC News reported Wednesday, "internal diversity and inclusion training programs have been scaled back or cut entirely" at Google over the last two years, likely as a result of Damore's suit and all of the media attention his memo attracted.
These days, Damore appears to be living in Austin, Texas, a place where liberalism and tech culture collide with barbecue and good old Texan values. And according to Twitter, he's been developing a card-based game of some kind, and he still refers to his memo as being "pro-diversity."