Google settled a racial discrimination claim brought by a contractor who says that the company failed to adequately protect him from being “treated as a terror suspect,” while on the job for Google Maps, reports The Guardian.
The Guardian says that Google retracted a contract offered to Ahmed Rashid (an alias), after he complained about being racially harassed on the job. Rashid, whom the paper identifies as a UK citizen of Moroccan descent, told the paper that he worked as a third-party contractor to “surreptitiously gather information about the strength and range of wifi signals inside individual stores in the targeted shopping centers,” which would allow users to use Google Maps with greater accuracy via WiFi signal, rather than GPS.
Rashid explained to the paper that he and his team would walk around designated stores for a set amount of time, while apps on their phones collected information. He says that they were not permitted to identify themselves to store employees nor provided with identification, and that as he was the only “visibly Arab” member of the team, this practice made him a target for security and store staff. He says that he was stopped in stores in England, France, and Italy.
While he reported incidents to Google and requested an ID, those “requests were ignored,” and after complaining about an incident from September 2017, the company withdrew a new contract the same day. Google settled with the man, paying him £4,000, but denied wrongdoing. The Guardian says that the terms of his settlement forbid him to talk about the incident, but that he decided to speak out following the recent Google Walkout. A co-worker corroborated Rashid’s story, saying that out of their entire team, he experienced the most problems, and that “Google could have done more to help him.”
In a statement to The Guardian, Google confirmed that it does conduct such research, and says that “All employees and contractors are provided with clear guidelines that outline the details of their project and role, and they’re instructed to be forthright about the fact that they’re working on behalf of Google.”