You do not have a constitutional right to misogyny in the workplace

As mentioned here in the past, most people have never read the U.S. Constitution, but that usually doesn’t stop them from claiming constitutional protections that don’t exist.

The latest example is the controversy because an engineer at Google, for some reason, thought his opinion on the biological differences between men and women was something the rest of the corporate behemoth should pay attention to.

He’s been fired and with good reason.

Unsurprisingly, the people who believe there are biological reasons why women are underrepresented in the tech industry are claiming Google violated the man’s First Amendment rights.

It should go without saying that there’s no constitutional right in your private company to accommodate your misogyny, though it can hardly be surprising that James Damore believes he’s got one.

On Marketplace, Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology, again fights the good fight to explain it.

The First Amendment really only acts as a restraint on government. In fact, the first few words of the First Amendment are: Congress shall make no law restricting freedom of speech or of the press or religion.

So when you work for the private sector and your employer is not the government, the Constitution gives you zero protection in terms of keeping your job based on what you say.

So while it is possible that states and localities could pass laws protecting speech — and a very, very tiny number of cities and localities have done so — 99.9 percent of the time, there is no legal barrier to a private employer firing an employee because of their speech at or outside of the workplace.

No doubt Damore will be the poster child for those who view the firing as another example of Google’s unwillingness to accommodate conservative views — a slap in the face to conservatives who don’t believe the word should be hijacked as a synonym for misogyny — but there’s an even better reason for his firing, former Google senior engineer Yonatan Zunger writes: He’s not a very good engineer.

Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers. If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to.

Solitary work is something that only happens at the most junior levels, and even then it’s only possible because someone senior to you — most likely your manager — has been putting in long hours to build up the social structures in your group that let you focus on code.

All of these traits which the manifesto described as “female” are the core traits which make someone successful at engineering. Anyone can learn how to write code; hell, by the time someone reaches L7 or so, it’s expected that they have an essentially complete mastery of technique.

The truly hard parts about this job are knowing which code to write, building the clear plan of what has to be done in order to achieve which goal, and building the consensus required to make that happen.

All of which is why the conclusions of this manifesto are precisely backwards. It’s true that women are socialized to be better at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on — this is something that makes them better engineers, not worse ones.

It’s a skillset that I did not start out with, and have had to learn through years upon years of grueling work. (And I should add that I’m very much an introvert; if you had asked me twenty years ago if I were suited to dealing with complex interpersonal issues day-to-day, I would have looked at you like you were mad.) But I learned it because it’s the heart of the job, and because it turns out that this is where the most extraordinary challenges and worthwhile results happen.

Today might not be a bad day to brush up on that employee handbook.

  • >>It should go without saying that there’s no constitutional right in your private company to accommodate your misogyny…<<

    Or really anything else your workplace might deem "not in their best interests"…

    • I find it ironic (and more than a little sad) that the people who push at-will employment laws (successfully, I might add) are the same people who are incredulous that Google can fire someone for pushing beliefs contrary to their company’s position.

      • jon

        I find it ironic that the same people who point out that “the left shuts down any speech they find offensive” are the same ones who say that all of the protestors are paid, and push for things like the WI “campus Free speech” bill designed to silence dissent…

        But I guess every one supports freedom (be it of speech or of association) right up to the point some one else users theirs…

      • krisbrowne42

        These are the same people who say that Government should stay out of States Rights, right up until the states to something they don’t agree with… That Government should stay out of regulations, right up until businesses are trying to do something they don’t agree with… That speak volumes about Religious Freedoms but only for theirs.

        They have no intellectual honesty.

      • Vic Demented

        That sword cuts both ways.

        • It might if I considered myself a Liberal. This is the central problem of modern “conservative” thinking. They define themselves as anti-liberal, which causes them to label anyone they disagree with as a liberal. This path of least resistance thinking, that “anyone I disagree with is on the opposite side of the political spectrum and therefore automatically wrong” is just circular reasoning. There have always been people in both parties that “think” this way. The modern GOP however, has turned thinking in circles into a central pillar of the party.

  • Kellpa07

    One would hope the concept of “”Free Speech” in this country never gets limited to that which is protected by the First Amendment. It is of course true that there is no constitutional right to produce the document. Any claim based on that would be laughed out of court. Ask any Hollywood writer blacklisted during the McCarthy era if people ought to be denied employment based on their politics, even when such conduct is legal. It seems more and more in this country favor punishing, thereby shutting down speech with which they disagree. I view that as particularly unhealthy, especially for controversial topics where ideas that once seemed radical can eventually become mainstream. Sunshine used to be a great disinfectant, now we prefer sunglasses to protect our tender eyes. Protection from government attempt to suppress speech is important, but should not become the sole focus for maintaining free speech in society. Google is a business, and acts in its perceived interest, but let’s not pretend this has no chilling effect.
    I haven’t actually seen where this guy asserts a First Amendment right to write what he did, so maybe you could cite to that. I did see that he is considering a claim under CA law that protects employees from dismissal in retaliation for political speech as well as a potential claim for retaliation (which strikes me as weak, but there is a lot we may not know).

    • RBHolb

      There is the issue of whether a private business should be compelled to be identified with their employees’ repellent personal beliefs. Should Google be criticized because it doesn’t want to be identified with misogyny (a big issue in the tech sector these days)? If an employee posts racist tirades online, should her employer have to be identified with them?

      • Google is fair game for criticism; nothing shields them from that. And nothing prevents anyone from having beliefs that are repellant. But this gentleman wasn’t declaring a personal belief to the extent that he demanded the right to have them. No one was preventing him from having them; he was openly advocating for Google to adopt them too.

        Obviously, Google was saying, “no, thank you.”

        • Kellpa07

          To be fair, Google is saying “no thank you, you’re fired.” An important difference.

          • Dan

            Read the CEO’s response, it clearly states the lines crossed when the memo went from “no thanks” to “you’re fired”.

    • The only chilling affect, it seems to me, would be on employees who campaign for a corporate adoption of one’s personal beliefs.

      The guy was paid to be an engineer. How does campaigning against the policies of your company outside the mechanism for doing so fulfill that responsibility?

      His campaign, basically, was that his company should have his policies. Moreover, he used a company owned mailing list to do it.

      • Kellpa07

        The internet is littered with those who have run afoul of their employers’ stated values, both in their professional and personal capacities. Of course this has a chilling affect on employees who campaign for changing corporate policies. About 15 years or so ago, committed people campaigned for the adoption of benefits for same sex couples who at the time were denied marriage rights. Companies back then legally could, and likely did fire some of those. That doesn’t make it right.

        • krisbrowne42

          There is somewhat of a difference there… The case of benefits for same sex couples is something which in no-way relates to anyone’s capability to work… The manifesto essentially says “I don’t think women are as good as jobs like mine”, which is absolutely relates to how people are supposed to work together, and the culture of trust among workers. Managers have a hard enough time herding engineers without some of them wondering if others disrespect them for their chromosomes.

      • Dan

        I’d push back on that. At Google, it’s generally good, even encouraged, to push for your personal beliefs to be adopted, even counter to current company policies, and to suggest changes. That’s partly what the platform he posted on is for. It’s all a part of the workplace culture they’ve fostered there, and it really is a part of what makes it a desirable place to work. That helps attract top talent in a very competitive field.

        CEO Sundar Pichai (apologies if this is already in one of your links) wrote an excellent response, outlining what was in and what was out of bounds. He made the correct call and, I thought, explained the decision very well.

        https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/8/16111724/google-sundar-pichai-employee-memo-diversity

    • jon

      When did sunlight stop being a disinfectant? Is UV-C not still destructive to bacteria cells? I’m pretty sure it is.

      Thinking about it, I can’t think of a single disinfectant I would want in my eyeballs, given that my eyeballs are made up of most of the same stuff as the bacterium that disinfectants would kill…

    • BJ

      >Ask any Hollywood writer blacklisted during the McCarthy era

      Funny it seems that term refers to U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, aka government. The major push of the blacklisting happened after ten writers and directors were cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

      So the government intrusion lead to Hollywood not wanting the government to intrude on it, more. It was always under fire and what if any of them had been hired what do you think the McCarthy era politicians would have done to those Hollywood studios?

  • Guest

    I totally agree with this view, that the social skills women bring ARE what make a project successful.

    Now let’s flip that, IF (for discussion purposes) women ARE better at social interactions that means they MAY be worse at other skills, same for men, everyone is not great at everything.

    SOOO why would we expect evidence of a gap of any kind to be evidence of discrimination, rather than interests???

    Of course individual exceptions abound. We are talking about large numbers and averages.

    IF long-fingered folks were better at playing the violin would a gap of short-fingered folks be evidence of discrimination? Why wouldn’t brains evolve to be good at nurture instead of calculating the best time to throw a spear and stop a lion???

    Even with playing the odds regarding talents, I would hire a different type of person on a team just to get a wider perspective rather than yet another same type of person.

    Just don’t pretend the odds of success are the same for every person for every type of work.

    • // SOOO why would we expect evidence of a gap of any kind to be evidence of discrimination,

      Because science should trump supposition?

      • Guest

        THAT is my point. Give the same test (academic, athletic, social) to a vast number of people and you might get differences along gender, body shape, or interests.

        To say any gap is proof of discrimination versus interest IS a supposition.

        It is a supposition, not science, that would predict gender would be evenly split along ALL talents. Now I am also certain any individual can train for any talent……..but how many boys have an interest in gymnastics????

        • Jerry

          Lots of boys do. They just call it professional wrestling. Or Ninja Warrior, or you know, gymnastics.

          • Guest

            Those who are in gymnastics do NOT say it is the same as “professional wrestling”. Different skills. Different interest by gender……and that is OK.

        • You don’t believe that woman are discouraged from tech fields, is what you’re saying?

          • Guest

            Nope. The sad fact is they most likely ARE. My point being more to not having an interest can also explain the relative mix. Every gap is not proof of discrimination. I am also saying hiring another X gives an outfit less of a broad perspective than hiring a Y. Same as if it was mostly Y’s, they’d benefit from more X’s.

          • Women “not having an interest” in technology has sometimes been explained by some women themselves as not being encouraged in school to – even actively DIScouraged – pursue a STEM academic or career track.

            The AAUW summarizes it this way:

            “Research profiled in this report shows that negative stereotypes about girls’ abilities in math can indeed measurably lower girls’ test performance. Researchers have also documented how stereotypes can lower girls’
            aspirations for science and engineering careers over time.

            “When test administrators tell students that girls and boys are equally capable in math, however, the difference in performance essentially disappears, illustrating that changes in the learning environment can improve girls’ achievements in math.”

            The full AAUW report (“Why So Few Women in STEM”) is here [PDF]:

            http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Why-So-Few-Women-in-Science-Technology-Engineering-and-Mathematics.pdf

        • “… but how many boys have an interest in gymnastics?”

          They exist. But, they will always be fewer in number than, say, a football team because there just aren’t as many openings or opportunities to compete at any given tournament. This is anecdotal but our high school gymnastics team was almost all-male, and numbered fourteen individuals in total.

          Male gymnasts are maybe also less noticed because of the one thing that can truly be said is biologically different between men and women: anatomy. The women get a LOT more attention from the TV cameras. 😉

          Btw, here’s a list of men’s Olympic medalists in gymnastics:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Olympic_medalists_in_gymnastics_(men)

      • Vic Demented

        Oh really?

        “Women are said to be better at distinguishing between the fleeting expressions that cross our faces every day. According to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University, this is because empathy comes naturally to women while men are wired to understand how things work.

        Men are typically systemisers. That is they’re better at investigating how a system works. They like to get deeply involved in activities such as car repair, computing or building up an extensive music collection.

        On average women are empathisers. They are better at accurately guessing other people’s emotions and responding appropriately. They would be more likely to comfort you in a time of crisis.”
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/articles/empathising_systemising.shtml

    • Lindsey

      To say that women are better at social skills is to stereotype or assume, based upon anecdotes which are used to keep women out of science…

      • Guest

        IF there are no differences by gender, why is it important to have female Supreme Court Judges, Presidents, CEO and so on.

        WOULD they make different decisions solely because of gender? If not, is it all a matter of fairness by gender or because having a mix of board leaders helps “thinking outside the box”.

        IF there is no gender based decision making there is no benefit to any outfit by having more females. IF there is gender based decision making, any outfit would get a broader perspective.

        • Insert “biological” in front of “differences” and see if that’s still a question you want to ask.

          • Guest

            Actually I have no idea if gender differences are due to biology, evolution, culture or whatever.

            I do know that it would surprise me to test a vast number of people by many skills and find they ALL split evenly by gender.

          • “I do know that it would surprise me to test a vast number of people by many skills and find they ALL split evenly by gender.”

            It’s a slippery slope, there. Remove “gender” and substitute “race”, “culture”, “religion”, “age demographic”, “city of residence”, “school grade”, etc. and someone, somewhere could arrive at that same conclusion.

            People categorized within any given label will have different levels of progress and accomplishment.

          • Guest

            ARE there gender differences (due to whatever) in the decisions a male leader makes versus a female leader?

            IF not, then there is no advantage to an outfit to have a mix in leadership. Then the push for a mix would be solely to trying to achieve fairness for the under-represented. Fair enough, no objection here.

            BUT if there ARE differences for gender decisions, then a mix would lead to a broad set of perspectives, which would benefit the outfit.

            SOOO is pushing for a gender mix good for the under-represented or good for the outfit????

          • // SOOO is pushing for a gender mix good for the under-represented or good for the outfit????

            Yes.

          • DJ Wambeke

            I admit to being confused about your point here. Do you disagree with anything “Guest” is saying?

      • Guest

        Actually if I was designing a product or investigating a mystery I would CRAVE a wide background of experiences.

        I am saying there IS something about gender that IS different.

        I’d rather have 50 male and 50 female on a project team than 100 male or 100 female. Same for a wide variety of factors.

  • crystals

    This post combined with yesterday’s about the outrage regarding girls hair in Madison is why feminism still needs to exist. And be talked about, and taught.

    • John Albano

      …and you can’t quite do that when someone opens discussion for that and you silence/attack/fire them.

      • Rob

        Not sure how someone claiming women are inferior advances the discussion.

  • Joe

    Your link to “He’s been fired” goes to an MPR story about the ice palace, fyi.

  • Kassie

    I think another reason Google had to fire this guy is because he is creating a hostile work environment. If my co-worker spouts off about why women aren’t as good as men and my employer doesn’t put a stop to it, they are allowing for a work environment that is abusive. I can then sue, and Google doesn’t want that. They had to fire the guy.

    • Vic Demented

      Yet, that’s not what he did.

      • Laurie K.

        Well, if you as a male commentator say that Damore did not create a hostile work environment for women then it must be true!

      • Kassie

        He says women are more neurotic than men. He says men have a higher drive for status than women. He states that creating mentorship programs for women is discrimination and it would just be best that Google doesn’t try to get women (and other minorities) into tech. Yep, that kind of talk is sexist and abusive.

        • DJ Wambeke

          He states… it would just be best that Google doesn’t try to get women (and other minorities) into tech

          Not really, go back and read the paper. This is a gross misrepresentation of his stated goals and opinion. In the “Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap” section He specifically listed 8 areas that, in his words, would “increase women’s representation in tech”.

          • It might be out of context, but it’s not a gross misrepresentation at all. He actually said it:

            Personality differences

            Women, on average, have more:

            Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).

            These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.

            Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.

            This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue. This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.

            Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.

            It’s true he suggested ways to increase the number of women (without resorting to discrimination, he said) but as part of that , he listed the “personality traits” that should be considered.

            He states quite often during his manifesto that he believes in diversity, but it’s difficult to see where it fits in with his consistent argument that methods to achieve it are leftist, and PC and are designed to protect the weak (i.e. women).

            His solution is to demoralize diversity, stop alienating conservatives, and a de-emphais on empathy among other things but all of his references are to programs to increase diversity. So at best he’s making an argument on one side while prefacing it with a stated belief in the values of that to which he objects.

            In many ways, his style of presenting his argument mirrors that of the person who says “I’m not a racist, but” shortly before saying something racist.

          • DJ Wambeke

            Sorry Bob, but it is a gross misrepresentation. The 173-word section you quoted in no way supports the assertion that he doesn’t want Google to try to get women in tech. From my reading of his paper it may be true that he thinks a 50/50 split is an unreasonable goal, but to say he doesn’t want to help women in tech is completely unsubstantiated.

            So at best he’s making an argument on one side while prefacing it with a stated belief in the values of that to which he objects. Well, yes, you’re on to something now. He agrees with the value; just not the methods Google is (currently) using to achieve it, which he thinks are causing harm to others. This is one of the problems of modern discourse; we are too quick to say “oh, you don’t agree with our method? Then you must be a Bad Person who doesn’t agree with our goal.” And then add public shaming to the mix and I would hope you could empathize with the horrified reaction a lot of people are having right now to what happened to him.

            In many ways, his style of presenting his argument mirrors that of the person who says “I’m not a racist, but” shortly before saying something racist. Irrelevant. Stick with the content of his actual argument please. The truth of a syllogism is solely dependent upon whether the rules of logic were followed and whether the content of the premises is true.

          • Dan

            “He states… it would just be best that Google doesn’t try to get women (and other minorities) into tech”

            …He specifically listed 8 areas that, in his words, would “increase women’s representation in tech”.

            Right, after he says women generally have a harder time leading.

            He doesn’t advocate action in any of those 8 areas, or any area to explicitly help women — you know, arbitrary social engineering, extreme authoritarianism, violating his amoral morals, etc. If it helps Google in other ways, too, maybe, but nothing that solely and explicitly addresses the tech workforce being 20% women and 1% black. That could just be because of biology and, oh hey, I’m just going to obliquely mention in the footnotes, you libs ignore IQ differences. Just putting that out there. Not saying. Juuuust saying.

            It’s couched in Ivy League equivocations and is lousy with sourced references to Wikipedia and Wall Street Journal editorials. It’s not a good paper, but that’s not what got him fired. Neither was arguing programs explicitly helping women get into tech are discriminatory (not sure why such discrimination would be a problem if we’re to eschew morals, but whatevs).

            Lines like “women generally… have a harder time leading”, along with others, are likely what got him fired. At least that’s according to Sundar Pichai.

            But gross misrepresentation? I don’t think so. Plus Kassie has a right to say it, freedom of speech bro.

          • DJ Wambeke

            Plus Kassie has a right to say it, freedom of speech bro.
            “Bro”????

            I never said Kassie didn’t have “a right” to say it; I said it was a horribly incorrect summary of Damore’s view (which it is).

            You are working overtime to discern as much malice as possible where there may be none. A better approach? Take it at its word, and show why its wrong, as David Schmitt (one of the scientists whose works were cited by Damore) did here. He said Damore got his research right but incorrectly applied it to Google’s situation.

            See? Civil discourse. It can be done.

          • Dan

            Arguing “freedom” when someone takes issue with the substance of what’s being said is kinda silly, huh?

            The substance of his memo was the issue that got him fired, not the style. There are also problems with the style. And with some of the non-fireable logic he uses. I’m sure he doesn’t think he’s malicious and that’s not the point.

            I’m also sure this is a coincidence, at not at all reflective of where he is really coming from, but he granted his first “media” interviews to a couple of alt-right heroes. The one which hasn’t been deleted, being with an anti-feminist fellow who also agrees with “racial realists” and talks about “low IQ-cultures”, swimming in the same pseudoscientific waters as the author, just for bonus points. And Damore identifies himself as “libertarian”, both in the interview and in other internal Google discussions… would never have seen that coming, talking about the Left and Marxism and “classical liberal”, I mean we have to take him at face value amirite.

            I already stated my thoughts on why the summary you took issue with isn’t a “gross misrepresentation”… a quibble over semantics at most. He advocates getting rid of anything that explicitly helps women, and explicitly says he doesn’t advocate any of his suggested “alternatives”. Regarding the paper, I’m not going to take statements at face value when they’re quickly contradicted by the person who’s making them.

  • Tim o’Bedlam

    More to the point, the guy spent who knows how many hours, on company time, crafting his ridiculous memo. That alone might have been a firing offense, regardless of its content.

  • Worth pointing out that in his manifesto, he identifies himself as a “classical liberal.”

    • Jerry

      Well it’s good to know he is not in favor of a monarchy and vassalage

    • Dan

      That is so tiring. Just say “I like Ayn Rand”, it says the same thing more clearly, and in fewer syllables.

      • Jerry

        Calling yourself a classical liberal is just a pretentious way of saying your a current conservative.

        Oh, and I don’t think anybody actually liked Ayn Rand. Some of them just agree with her horrible philosophy.

        • Dan

          True, but getting more specific would have ruined my “fewer syllables” line.

          • Vic Demented

            Advancing harmful tribalistic stereotypes.

          • Dan

            Coincidentally, an even better alternative term for “classical liberal”.

        • jon

          I like the people who “like” Ayn Rand, and assume Ayn Rand was a him…. (or have her confused with Rand Paul…)

        • RBHolb

          As the political theorist Corey Robin said, ““Saint Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin, and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both.”

      • DJ Wambeke

        Not true. It appears the libertarians (of which Danamore may or may not be one; I don’t know) have poisoned the term. A lot of folks who would identify in the “classical liberal” camp have no time or patience for Ayn Rand’s BS.

        • Dan

          Internet commenter making pains to say they are “actually” a “classical liberal”: nearly 100% of the time, a libertarian-leaning Republican, using the term to distract from how closely their ideas are aligned with hard line right wing thinking, and how far apart they are from the liberals they argue against. Insinuating there might be more common ground, and less antagonism, than there really is. Also, sometimes, a jab at modern liberals not being as “true” to some liberal ideal as the “classic” (I’m more liberal than you liberals who call yourselves liberal, i.e., better than you).

          Given a random comment, I would put money on its author being influenced by reading Atlas Shrugged in their late teens/early twenties. Of course, some (I don’t know about “a lot of”) may not be fans, but the bigger the sample size, the more money I’m putting down, and the more I’m taking home.

          Also would take “libertarian-leaning conservative, though I did vote for Trump”, but again, that ruins the “fewer syllables” line, which is the most important thing at the end of the day.

    • krisbrowne42

      Some folks seem to feel that Democrats left them behind when they stopped supporting owning people… A bridge too far from Jefferson I guess.

    • Kellpa07

      I suppose you’ve moved on from the post, but I remain curious about your basis for accusing the engineer of claiming his First Amendment rights were violated. The title to your post states that, the body of the post states that, but you provide no evidence for it. Seems to me that you should retract it or provide some support for your assertion.

      • BJ

        Just googling his name this one came to the top.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/business/google-women-engineer-fired-memo.html

        Money quote

        >Mr. Damore, who worked on infrastructure for Google’s search product, said he believed that the company’s actions were illegal and that he would “likely be pursuing legal action.”

        and another
        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-08/google-fires-employee-behind-controversial-diversity-memo

        Money quote from that one

        >James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

        • Kellpa07

          None of that supports Mr. Collins’ assertion that he was pursuing legal action based on the First Amendment. There are lots of claims that do not involve the First Amendment, see my post above. The NYT article refers to an NLRB claim, the Bloomberg article mentions nothing about this engineer asserting that his First Amendment rights have been violated. Mr. Collins states that he has. I highly doubt he made it up, but I was wondering where he got that information.

          • Laurie K.

            So on what legal basis do you believe that Mr. Damoe IS “currently exploring all possible legal remedies”?

          • Kellpa07

            The NRLB enforces federal labor law. If a First “Amendment claim was being brought, that would not go through the agency, it would go directly to Federal court. The NYT and the Bloomberg article allude to a claim for retaliation. Not sure how strong those claims would be, but that appears to be what is asserted. In addition, CA state law has some protections against private employers for political speech and activity. Not sure this would apply, but it may.

      • Charlie Hurd

        Hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a liberal diatribe!

        • Kellpa07

          Very much an exercise in confirmation bias. Mr. Collins expected the argument, so when he saw “legal claims,” he assumed “First Amendment.” then he wrote an entire article about that. Kind of an embarrassing mistake without regard to ideology.

  • Kellpa07

    Worth pointing out that this article is headlined “You do not have a constitutional right to misogyny in the workplace.” It also states the engineer involved believes he has a constitutional “right in your private company to accommodate your misogyny.” According to the NYT, he claims a legal right, but not a constitutional right. Did you conflate the two, or is there some other claim that his First Amendment rights were violated? The NYT article discusses a complaint to the NLRB, but does not mention anything about his alleged belief that his First Amendment rights were violated. Neither the MPR story linked in the article, nor the Bloomberg story linked in that article make any mention of a First Amendment claim. You cite Lee Rowland to let us all know that the First Amendment acts as a constraint only against the government. That is true, but in this story only relevant if the engineer actually made a claim otherwise.
    Upon what do you base your assertion that the engineer believes his constitutional rights have been violated? Your article provides no support for it.

    • Charlie Hurd

      Collins whole article is a straw man fallacy, rather than argumentation. Damore never asserted a first amendment right. Facts, who cares when you can go off on a spiel.

  • John A-G

    I wish I was a fraction of the writer that Bob is! A great post with a balanced view–thank you.

  • 9l4iV

    He was fired because he questioned the discriminatory work hiring policies

    • X.A. Smith

      He was fired for making his female co-workers uncomfortable in their workplace.

    • Rob

      You mean the 70% white dudes workplace, where women are paid less than men for doing the same jobs, and the company is resisting government efforts to obtain the company’s records regarding the rationale for the pay differentials?

  • lindblomeagles

    Well, Lee Rowland and Yonatan Zunger are correct, and NO, I’m not saying this because I agree with them. We Americans forget that our LEGAL origins actually trace back to Renaissance England, not Colonial America. From the 15 – 1600s, Englanders metaphorically rise up against their royal kings to establish more egalitarian laws between commoners and the monarchy. There was LITERALLY a time when the King of England could, and did, sentence civilians to death because they were too critical of the King and his cronies. When King George treated English colonials as second class citizens rather than the Englanders who had won egalitarian rights, they REMINDED the King through the Declaration of Independence that the government should not reverse course by unduly punishing people for their political criticisms. This right has not been extended to private employers, and US courts have consistently ruled in favor of at-will employment, employee handbooks, and employer policy statements. They’ve argued, compellingly, that it isn’t fair to the business owner that his employee costs his employer good business because the employee couldn’t keep his mouth shut. And engineers do often work with other engineers and customers to complete projects. Sometimes, several engineers are contracted on a particular project to reduce costs and glean expertise in-house engineers do not possess. I know, First Amenders want to say anything and everything without responsibility, but the place to do that is at home or at a bar with your friends — not in the workplace or on an Internet site.

    • Kellpa07

      Rowland is of course correct. The funny thing is, no one has suggested otherwise. The google engineer has not made the claim that his First Amendment rights were violated. Mr. Collins, for whatever reason assumed that because the engineer was “exploring legal options,” that meant only a First Amendment claim. The entire of point of Mr. Collins’ condescending post was for naught. Which is kind of funny. To a journalist, it should be embarrassing to make factual claims for which he had no support. Maybe he could fins some now, but nothing that he cited in his article, nor in the articles to which he linked supported his claim.

  • Charlie Hurd
  • Kellpa07

    It would be understandable, maybe, if this entry had been posted by an intern or cub reporter. However, nothing in the story supports the notion that the engineer believes his First Amendment rights were violated. Mr. Collins purports to tell this engineer about his constitutional rights, and gives us this exercise in unwarranted condescension: “It should go without saying that there’s no constitutional right in your private company to accommodate your misogyny, though it can hardly be surprising that James Damore believes he’s got one.”
    According to the NYT, Damore discussed a potential claim with the NLRB. Nothing in the NYT story gives any indication that he is claiming any violation of his First Amendment rights. Mr. Collins linked to the mpr article which does not give any indication that Damore believes his First Amendment rights were violated. He also linked to the Bloomberg article which tells us only Damore is considering legal options.
    People often see what they expect. Mr. Collins expected to see a First Amendment claim, so he wrote about one. Apparently it doesn’t matter that no such claim was made. In the end, Mr. Collins’ condescension says more about him than the “ignorant” google engineer.

    • Laurie K.

      From a news source that I think you may identify with:

      Mr. Damore has said that, prior to losing his job, he filed a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces federal labor law. He said that the complaint was prompted by Google executives’ criticism of the memo and that he has a right to express “concerns about the terms and conditions of [his] working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior.”

      http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/08/09/ex-employee-faces-legal-obstacles-wsj.html

      • Kellpa07

        Not sure why you think I identify with Fox. This supports what I wrote. It does not discuss a first amendment claim, which was the purported basis of Mr. Collins post. Federal labor law does not mean “First Amendment.”

        • Laurie K.

          Damore stated the complaint was prompted because “he has a right to express ‘concerns about the terms of conditions…'” Right to express… hmmmm… I wonder what possible legal argument that could possibly apply to?

          • Kellpa07

            Then perhaps Mr. Collins’ post was meant for you. “Right to Express” has many applications outside of the First Amendment, including state and federal employment law. You should read yesterday’s NYT article. It looks like he has filed an NLRB complaint. A First Amendment complaint would not be handled by the NLRB. The NLRB complaint would allege that Google violated federal labor law, in this case apparently “Coercive Statements,(Threats, Promises of Benefits, etc.). Again, I have no opinion on whether it is a strong claim, just that Mr. Collins was wrong to claim that this guy alleges that his First Amendment rights were violated. Of course they were not, but that’s not what this guy claims.

    • Kellpa07

      apparently defending your accusations that the engineer is claiming a First Amendment violation is even less cool. Journalists used to have standards.

      • DJ Wambeke

        FWIW, Newscut doesn’t need to follow normal journalistic standards. The masthead states that it is a place for “reflections , observations, and debate”. Which frees it up a bit in good and bad ways. On a good day, Newscut posts are extremely uplifting or insightful; on a bad day (like this post) it obfuscates and conceals the actual issues at play. Bob’s motive in this post (and surrounding discussion) seems to not have been to explore the issues or science involved with this incident but to simply ensure that the bounds of the Overton Window are positioned such that Damore’s point of view is summarily excluded from the bounds of rational discourse.

        • // from the bounds of rational discourse.

          You think there’s a rational discourse to be had surrounding why women are not effective and equal participants in the workplace. I don’t.

          Again:

          https://twitter.com/Mc_Heckin_Duff/status/894812915894816768

        • Kellpa07

          I agree that his blog doesn’t follow journalistic standards. It’s his blog, and he should do what he wants, within whatever parameters his employer sets. I just find it hilarious that he accused the Damore fellow of not understanding that there is no First Amendment right to speech vis a vis his employer, but completely fails to understand that the engineer made no such claim. He could have cast this, in the headline and the body of the post, as a “let’s discuss Damore’s opinions” or “let’s get our torches and join the mob.” Instead, he attempted to show off his “superior” legal mind based on his assumption that Damore or his attorneys would bring a First Amendment claim. It’s his own cognitive bias, he just sees what he expects to see, or wants to see.

  • Jerry

    You used the word “misogyny” several times in this post, Bob. That’s a pretty strong word, suggesting as it does that Demore hates women. Can you quote a few lines to justify your use of that term?

    • You can read his words and reach your own conclusion. Mine is that they indicate he’s a misogynist.

      • Jerry

        Can you share some evidence to support that view?

        • If you look downstream, you’ll see I quoted one section .

          • Jerry

            I wanna put this in your ear: it doesn’t sound very hateful to me. Sexist, yes, but hateful, no. Demore is arguing that evolution has had good reason to treat men and women differently, so we should expect some differences in the large-scale distribution of strengths and weaknesses between the sexes. One of his main points, however, is that this is observable only in the aggregate, and cannot be used to predict anything about any particular man or woman. Contrary to being emotional at any level, this is a very dispassionate, academic argument.

            Just to be clear: I do not agree with this guy. Having taught and worked with a large number of women in math and science, it is abundantly clear to me that structural and societal pressures are a significant force in dissuading talented young women from pursuing careers in STEM fields. While I certainly agree that the populations of men and women have different distributions, I don’t believe for a second that this even begins to explain the huge disparity in their representations in the sciences, as Demore suggests.

            That said, I don’t think it is either fair or helpful to characterize his memo as being “misogynistic”. It’s not fair because it ascribes him beliefs and attitudes—namely, hatred of women—that we only imagine he holds, not that we have heard him express. More importantly, it’s not helpful because it robs us of the opportunity to succinctly and dispassionately refute his points in a way that might actually convince other people with ideas like his, without resorting to ad hominem attacks that only weaken our position and anger those with whom we disagree.

            This is my concern.

          • There’s more to the definition of misogyny than hatred. And obviously I disagree with you.

          • Jerry

            Sure, but without hatred, it isn’t misogyny.

            What is it that you disagree with, and why?

          • That.

            I disagree with you because I believe he’s a misogynist and I don’t believe it’s deserving of my accommodation.

          • Jerry

            Okay. Just so you know for the future: a very large part of the population understands the word misogyny to mean “hatred of women”. This is probably understandable given its etymology: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/misogyny#Etymology

          • Jerry

            That’s not a compelling argument, Bob. I told you I don’t think this text constitutes misogyny, and you told me that you disagree because you think it constitutes misogyny. Why do you think that?

        • Kellpa07

          He’s completely unable to the main contention of this article. Funny thing is, he makes the same dumb mistake he accused the engineer of, but backwards.

          Seriously, Bob, if you wanted to talk about what a sexist he is, that’s fine. But your post states he is making a dumb accusation, which is not apparent from anything you cited, nor from anything else. Either show your evidence or admit you’re wrong, change the post and apologize

  • Kellpa07

    As I understand it, Colin Kaepernick is available to comment on this story.