According to a recent report by The New York Times, Google’s defending itself against another lawsuit. That’s hardly unique for the company these days, but this time it’s due to the alleged influence of a “religious sect” on a business unit. One Kevin Lloyd, a former video producer for the company, claims he was fired for drawing attention to the religious sect’s influence.
The religious sect is called the Fellowship of Friends, with a membership somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600, according to Wikipedia, with most of them living near a 1,200-acre compound in Oregon House, California, called “Apollo.” The group’s beliefs are based on a philosophy called “The Fourth Way,” developed at the turn of the 20th century, which claims that higher levels of consciousness are possible.
The Fellowship of Friends is a registered non-profit church, but prior claims against the group include alleged sexual abuse on the part of its founder, regarded as a “prophet” by the group’s followers. Many of his prophecies have failed to materialize. Members are allegedly required to give the organization 10% of their earnings. “Religious sect” here is a clear euphemism for “cult.”
According to the New York Times, up to 12 members of the sect and their close relatives were employed by Google in this video-producing unit (called the Google Developer Studio), while others from the sect were also employed at various other times during events for various roles, at which Google also reportedly purchased wine from a business owned by — you guessed it — someone in this sec.
According to the report, the director of the Google Developer Studio is himself a member of the sect, and he has faced a prior lawsuit alleging that he failed to promote an employee for not being a member. Another video producer that worked for the team claims that the unit’s leadership abused the hiring process by using contractors (reportedly, most of the business unit were also employed as contractors), reducing the scrutiny that they might otherwise be subject to — in other words, Making it less likely a preferential hiring process might be caught. Google is alleged to have installed audio equipment in the home of a sound designer in the sect. One member of the sect reportedly went to shoots intoxicated and threw things at presenters “when he was unhappy with a performance” but remains employed full-time at Google. At least one of the people interviewed in the report did not wish to be identified out of fear of reprisal.
Lloyd was employed at Google through a contractor and claims that after complaining about the influence of the religious sect in the unit, he was fired. Google claims he was let go for performance reasons. Subsequently, he filed suit against both Google and the contracting agency.
A Google spokesperson provided Android Police with the following statement:
“We have long-standing employee and supplier policies in place to prevent discrimination and conflicts of interest, and we take those seriously. It’s against the law to ask for the religious affiliations of those who work for us or for our suppliers, but we’ Ill of course thoroughly look into these allegations for any irregularities or improper contracting practices. If we find evidence of violations policy, we will take action. well-documented performance issues.”
In a separate statement provided to The New York Times, the president of the contracting agency called the lawsuit “baseless.”
The suit was reportedly filed in the California Superior Court in August of last year and is still in the relatively early discovery stage.