A former video producer at Google has settled a lawsuit claiming he was fired after complaining that a religious sect had gained a foothold in one of the company’s business units.
Kevin Lloyd, 34, said in the lawsuit that he was fired for complaining that the Fellowship of Friends, a religious organization in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, controlled a business unit called Google Developer Studios that produced The video showcases the company’s technology.
The suit alleges that the head of the business, Peter Lubbers, a longtime Fellowship of Friends member, hired many members of the religious group to join the team as contractors, helped advance some to full-time positions, and Provides work for many others when it comes to staffing corporate meetings and parties.
Google confirmed Monday that the lawsuit has been settled. It also confirmed that Mr. Lubbers was no longer employed by Google, but declined to explain his departure. Mr. Lubber could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Lloyd filed suit last year against Google and Advanced Systems Group (ASG), the human resources firm that brought him in as a contract worker. It accused the companies of violating California employment laws that protect workers from discrimination.
The lawsuit has raised questions about Google’s reliance on contract workers, which now outnumber the company’s full-time employees. Most of Mr. Lloyd’s team joined the company as contractors through ASG, including many Fellowship members.
Mr Lloyd agreed to settle the lawsuit last week. Terms of the settlement between Mr Lloyd and ASG were not disclosed.
Founded in 1970 by a former teacher named Robert Earl Burton, the Fellowship of Friends bills itself as “open to anyone interested in spiritual work in pursuit of awakening.” It claims to have about 1,500 members worldwide, including about 500 in and around Oregon, California, a small town about 180 miles north of Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
Mr. Burton believed that people could achieve a higher consciousness by embracing the fine arts. For decades, he cultivated a lavish lifestyle with the help of followers, who often donated 10 percent of their monthly income to the organization.
In 1984, a former member filed a lawsuit alleging that young men who joined the group were “forcibly illicitly sexually seduced by Burton.” In 1996, another former member accused Mr Burton of sexually inappropriate conduct against him when he was underage. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.
In 2008, Catherine Jones, Mr. Lloyd’s attorney in the lawsuit against Google and ASG, won a similar lawsuit against the human resources firm Kelly Services. In the lawsuit, a former Kelly employee claims the company failed to promote her because, unlike many of her colleagues, she was not a member of a sorority. The court awarded her $6.5 million in damages.
Before joining Google and running Google Developer Studios, Mr. Lubbers worked at Kelly Services.