A troubling report published by our friends at Jezebel today suggests that Google might be systematically discriminating against overweight people in their hiring practices. An anonymous tipster called “Ms. G.” told them that after conducting a phone interview with Google, she was called into their New York office for a test. (She was applying for an administrative position.) After the test was over, she said, “seven of the roughly 20 people there were politely escorted out. All seven were overweight women; everyone who stayed was thin.” They also wouldn’t tell them their test scores, saying that they “consider the overall person.”
She can’t be sure what Google’s reasoning was, but when Ms. G and the six other applicants were escorted out, “There was not one fat person left in the pool.” In the elevator, she says, the rejected women “kind of looked at each other. One girl had tears in her eyes and that’s when I realized, [the HR official] separated out the fatties.”
Now, this is not necessarily evidence of discrimination; it could just have happened that of this particular applicant pool, the less qualified people happened to be heavier than the ones who were more qualified. But if it’s true, it pokes a hole in Google’s reputation for having an enlightened, open, and welcoming corporate culture. All those gourmet lunches and on-site ball pits or whatever won’t seem so fun anymore if Google is exposed as a discriminator!
Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that weight discrimination is not actually against the law, so even if they were systematically weeding out “the fatties,” there would be nothing said fatties could do about it besides make them look bad. (The extremely obese are sometimes protected under the Americans With Disabilities act, but even that’s not a surefire bet, and most overweight people are not so overweight that it qualifies as a disability.) That’s sort of fucked up, no? I can see being allowed to discriminate based on looks for a job that’s centered around fitting societal ideals of beauty (a stripper, perhaps, or maybe a cocktail waitress?), but administrative work has nothing to do with looks.
Then again, these charges could be totally trumped up, and Google could be the warm cocoon of diversity and innovation that we currently believe it to be. What do you think?