A former Google employee is alleging that she was harassed repeatedly by her superiors while working at the Mountain View, California, company and nothing was done to stop it, San Francisco Weekly reports. The employee’s allegation is complicated by the fact that she said on Twitter, “I have no proof of any of this.”
Business Insider has reached out to Google for comment and we will update this story when we hear back.
On the one hand, this incident is little more than a routine dispute between two individuals that ought not to rise any further than the HR department at Google. However, the broader issue of whether women in tech are discriminated against periodically erupts into headlines. An allegation at the code-sharing site Github became a global story, for instance, in 2014.
Kelly Ellis, who now works for the blogging platform Medium, was employed by Google between 2010 and 2014. In a series of tweets sent on Saturday, she alleged that during that time she was sexually harassed by a manager, and that after reporting it, she was reprimanded “instead of him.”
She names two Google employees as being involved, Rod Chavez and Vic Gundotra. Chavez told SF Weekly that he barely knew Ellis: “She used to work at Google I believe. She didn’t work with me but we worked in the same org.” He then said “he would need to check with his superiors if he was able to talk, then quickly hung up.”
Ellis worked on Google+, Google’s social networking platform. Vic Gundotra has been described as “the father of Google+,” leaving the company in April 2014. (Business Insider also reached out to Gundotra directly to get his side of the story.)
Ellis says she isn’t interested in talking to the media, and she doesn’t “care if people believe me or not… I’ve said what I had to say, now I’m planning to go back to writing code.”
The engineer has since made her Twitter profile private, but BuzzFeed News saved many of the tweets:
“You look amazing in that bathing suit, like a rock star.” -Vic Gundotra, to me, when I was a junior engineer at Google. In Maui.
Vic G to Matt S within earshot of me, on a boat in Maui: “doesn’t Kelly look amazing heh heh”
Rod Chavez is an engineering director at Google, he sexually harassed me, Google did nothing about it. Reprimanded me instead of him
“It’s taking all of my self control not to grab your arse right now.” VERBATIM quote from someone currently an engineering director at Goog
“He feels like you humiliated him in front of his reports.” Something HR actually fucking said to me.
The harassment “training” at Goog? Mostly about not getting in trouble. Nothing about respecting humanity of your peers.
Of course, whenever anyone said something that made me uncomfortable, I had to laugh it off. None of this is stuff I ever talked to HR about
I have no proof of any of this. Did I just blow up my career? I hope not.
Ellis has since become a target for harassment by internet trolls who want to punish her for speaking out. There are discussions about her on the “baphomet” forum of the message board 8chan. “She shouldn’t get away with this,” one user writes, “can anything be done?” BuzzFeed News reports she’s since had multiple people try to break into her social media accounts, “along with several rape threats.”
“This is what happens when women speak truth to power,” Ellis wrote on her Google+ page. “Happy International Women’s Day.”