Google paid £4,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit that claims it did not do enough to protect a contractor from being racially profiled while working on an undercover project for Google Maps in shopping malls, reports the Guardian. The contractor, a UK citizen of Moroccan descent, said he was subjected to frequent harassment, including being asked if he was a terrorist, while gathering information about wi-fi signals inside stores, and the situation was exacerbated because he was instructed not to disclose that he was conducting research for Google.
Ahmed Rashid (not his real name) contracted with Google last year to work on Expedite, a project meant to help with indoor mapping within shopping centers. Rashid told the Guardian he sued the company when an offer for a new contract was withdrawn after he complained about being harassed while carrying out his duties. Google denied wrongdoing, but paid to settle the case. Rashid agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but decided to speak out after the global walkout by Google employees to protest sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. “There was a complete disregard for the safety and interest of contractors. This research was being conducted in secret at the expense of the security of Google contractors that fit a stereotypically Muslim/Arab profile,” Rashid said, adding that he believes Google did not think about how researchers of Arab background would be treated because “there weren’t any Arabs on the board designing this project.” Rashid says his team members walked around stores in intervals of six, eight, or 12 minutes, while recording information about the strength and range of their wi-fi signals through a private Google app installed onto their phones. Rashid’s claims that he was frequently targeted for racial profiling and harassment were corroborated by a white team member who also spoke to the Guardian despite signing an NDA about the project. Read more