- A female engineer at Google recently wrote a lengthy post recounting her experience with a coworker who she said had a disturbing obsession with her feet.
- Lea Coligado – a female engineer on the Google Maps team – said that a man in his 50s stared at her feet for three straight hours on a particular bus ride and later made repeated attempts to gain proximity to her.
- Google did not take action against the potential stalking case, she said, because she never filed a formal complaint against the man for fear of retaliation.
- Coligado’s story comes as Google’s responses to workplace harassment and other misconduct are in the spotlight.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A female engineer at Google wrote in a Medium post that the company’s reporting system for workplace issues discouraged her from filing a complaint about a male coworker’s disturbing obsession with her feet, ultimately leading her to seek psychiatric help, in another example of the tech giant’s struggle to adequately address improper internal behaviour.
Lea Coligado – a female engineer on the Google Maps team who identifies as Filipina – said that the “white man in his 50s” first took to her feet one night during a three-hour ride home on one of the company’s chartered shuttle buses.
“I thought, There’s no way this dude’s been staring at my feet this long!” Coligado wrote. “But an adherent to rigorous testing, I moved my foot to gauge his reaction, and his whole goddamn head moved with it.”
Coligado’s bizarre tale is written in a sardonic style, replete with swear words and puns (“no one seemed to care that his SOLE objective was my feet”), but her message underscores a serious problem at Google. In the same week that Coligado’s Medium post about her experience was making the rounds, Google announced a new internal web portal to make it easier for employees to report harassment.
1/ 2 years ago, a couple months after joining #Google, I first noticed him. A white man in his 50s who must have toe-tally mistaken the Google bus for his personal Tinder because he was using it to hit on multiple Asian women. @googlewalkout pic.twitter.com/1h1yLvDhEi
— Lea Coligado (@leacoligado) April 24, 2019
Coligado wrote that under Google’s reporting system for workplace issues, pursuing an investigation would have likely revealed her identity – leaving her susceptible to retaliation from the man. While she contemplated taking formal action, the man made repeated attempts to gain proximity to her, including sitting next to her in the cafeteria and waiting for her to board the same shuttle bus.
Google did not take action against the potential stalking case, she said, because she never filed a formal complaint. Ultimately, Coligado said her mental health spiraled downward and so too did her performance at work.
Coligado said that her story about the “foot guy” is the first instalment in a forthcoming series of posts she’s calling, “The Chronicles of the Coding Curmudgeon.”
“Each piece is dedicated to a man who has stalked me, harassed me, or otherwise made me uncomfortable here,” Coligado wrote. “I’ve reported 3 men for sexual harassment in my 2 years at Google! Can I get a ‘Hell yeah!’ for more content?!?!”
Google did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the matter.
On Thursday, amid mounting pressure to address its process for employee-related incidents, Google said it was launching a new internal portal for employees to report issues, such as harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider on Thursday that employees had said previous methods of reporting workplace issues were complicated and opaque.
Last November, 20,000 Google employees around the world walked out in protest over the company’s handling of sexual-misconduct cases involving high-powered executives.
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