Ex-Google Sales Exec Hits Firm with Discrimination Charge

July 26, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A female sales executive who claims Internet search firm Google discriminated against her because she was pregnant has filed a federal court lawsuit against the company.

Plaintiff Christina Elwell charged in the suit that her promising career as national sales director was later derailed by a series of demotions and a firing after she told her supervisor that she was pregnant with quadruplets and having medical complications, according to a Newsday news report.

The suit says she was branded a human resources “nightmare” by her boss, Timothy Armstrong, Google’s vice president of national sales. Her suit accuses the company and Armstrong of employment discrimination, retaliation, violation of state human rights law and infliction of emotional distress.

In an e-mail to Newsday, Google spokesman Steve Langdon asserted, “The lawsuit against Google and Tim Armstrong is without merit, and we will defend vigorously against it.”

In her suit, Elwell said she first told Armstrong about her pregnancy in April 2004. Elwell charged that he later showed Elwell the organization chart from which her position had been deleted, and told her he wanted to transfer her to a post in operations, a “significant demotion.” After allegedly calling Elwell an “HR nightmare” in June 2004, Armstrong fired her over the telephone, the suit says, and sent a memo to employees saying she was “leaving the company,” according to the suit.

After being told by the company that she had been fired “improperly,” Elwell agreed to return to work, the suit said. Still pregnant, she returned to work July 19, 2004, to a project “similar to those given summer interns,” the suit alleged

On July 21, 2004, on doctor’s orders, Elwell got a disability leave. While on leave, she gave birth to her surviving child and prepared to return to work in January. The company told her she would have to take a low-level post, the suit said. She refused it, and claimed she was effectively forced out of the company.