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Google pregnancy discrimination case under investigation by EEOC

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks to the media before the opening of the Berlin representation of Google Germany in Berlin on January 22, 2019.

Carsten Koall | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has opened an investigation into Google for pregnancy discrimination against an employee, according to materials viewed by CNBC.

Chelsey Glasson, a former user experience researcher who worked at Alphabet’s Google for five years, wrote an internal memo that went viral last summer called “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why.” In it, she alleged her supervisor made discriminatory remarks about pregnant women. She also claimed that the company retaliated against her with poor performance ratings and unfairly denied her a leadership position.

Glasson told CNBC in December that Google’s human resources department did not investigate her complaint until after she hired an attorney, adding that she was never interviewed by HR before Google said it did not find her claims credible. At the time, Google didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Glasson filed a complaint with the EEOC late last year with the allegations, which had more detail, including that one of the alleged supervisors was on the Google Cloud team.

The company responded to the EEOC complaint in January, saying it found no evidence of discrimination and that it didn’t make Glasson a manager due to insufficient headcount, according to materials viewed by CNBC.

The agency transferred Glasson’s case to the EEOC’s investigation division Wednesday, where the Seattle field office will take it on.

The latest investigation comes as Alphabet-owned Google faces multiple investigations from federal agencies as complaints by former Google employees mount. CNBC first reported that The U.S. National Labor Relations Board began an investigation into Google after the firing of four employees. That came just months after the company reached a labor settlement with the agency. Last summer, Google settled a class action age discrimination lawsuit, agreeing to pay $11 million.

The EEOC declined to comment. “Under federal law, possible charges (complaints) made to the EEOC are strictly confidential, and we are prohibited from commenting on them, furnishing any information on them, or even confirming or denying the existence of such a charge,” stated EEOC Spokeswoman Kimberly Smith-Brown in an emailed response.

Google didn’t confirm or deny the EEOC investigation in a statement to CNBC, but said it has improved reporting systems for “inappropriate conduct.”

Reporting misconduct takes courage and we want to provide care and support to people who raise concerns. All instances of inappropriate conduct reported to us are investigated rigorously, and over the past year we have simplified how employees can raise concerns and provided more transparency into the investigations process at Google,” a Google spokesperson wrote in an email. “We work to be extremely transparent about how we handle complaints and the action we take.”

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