In an email titled “Our Words Matter,” Mr. Pichai said that he supported the right of employees to express themselves but that the memo had gone too far.
“The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” Mr. Pichai wrote. “Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic.’”
James Damore, the software engineer who wrote the original memo, confirmed in an email to The New York Times that he had been fired. Mr. Damore had worked at Google since 2013. He said in his memo that he had written it in the hope of having an “honest discussion” about how the company had an intolerance for ideologies that do not fit into what he believed were its left-leaning biases.
Mr. Damore, who worked on infrastructure for Google’s search product, said he believed that the company’s actions were illegal and that he would “likely be pursuing legal action.”
“I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does,” Mr. Damore said.
Mr. Pichai’s memo was reported earlier by Recode, and Bloomberg confirmed Mr. Damore’s dismissal.
Before being fired, Mr. Damore said, he had submitted a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board claiming that Google’s upper management was “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints.” He added that it was “illegal to retaliate” against an N.L.R.B. charge.
Mr. Pichai said he would be cutting short a family vacation to return to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to deal with the matter. He said the company intended to hold an all-hands meeting to discuss the issue on Thursday.