Home / Tech / A female engineer at Google says her warnings to the company about a male colleague with a foot fetish were overlooked, leading her to seek psychiatric help (GOOGL, GOOG)

A female engineer at Google says her warnings to the company about a male colleague with a foot fetish were overlooked, leading her to seek psychiatric help (GOOGL, GOOG)

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  • A female engineer at Google recently wrote a lengthy post recounting her experience with a co-worker who had a disturbing obsession with her feet.
  • Lea Coligado — a female engineer on the Google Maps team — said that a man in his 50s repeatedly stared at her feet during bus rides, at the cafeteria and on other occasions. He was even able to move into the same building as her, she wrote.
  • Google did not take action against the potential stalking case, she said, because she never filed a formal complaint against the man for fear of retaliation. 
  • Coligado’s story comes as Google’s responses to workplace harassment and other misconduct are in the spotlight. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A female engineer at Google has written about how the company ignored a co-worker’s disturbing obsession with her feet, ultimately leading her to seek psychiatric help, in another example of the tech giant’s struggle to adequately address improper behavior at the workplace. 

Lea Coligado — a female engineer on the Google Maps team who identifies as Filipina — said that the “white man in his 50s” first took to her feet one night during a three-hour ride home on one of the company’s chartered shuttle buses.

“I thought, There’s no way this dude’s been staring at my feet this long!” Coligado wrote. “But an adherent to rigorous testing, I moved my foot to gauge his reaction, and his whole goddamn head moved with it.” 

Coligado’s bizarre tale is written in a sardonic style, replete with swear words and puns (“no one seemed to care that his SOLE objective was my feet”), but her message underscores a serious problem at Google. In the same week that Coligado’s Medium post about her experience was making the rounds, Google announced a new internal web portal to make it easier for employees to report harassment 

Coligado says that Google repeatedly ignored her complaints about the man who she considered to be stalking her. The company even allowed him to move into the same office building as her.

Google did not take action against the potential stalking case, she said, because she never filed a formal complaint against the man for fear of retaliation. Ultimately, Coligado said her mental health spiraled downward and so too did her performance at work. 

Google Shuttle Bus

Coligado said that her story about the “foot guy” is the first installment in a forthcoming series of posts she’s calling, “The Chronicles of the Coding Curmudgeon.” 

“Each piece is dedicated to a man who has stalked me, harassed me, or otherwise made me uncomfortable here,” Coligado writes. “I’ve reported 3 men for sexual harassment in my 2 years at Google! Can I get a ‘Hell yeah!’ for more content?!?!”

Google did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the matter. 

On Thursday, amid mounting pressure to address its process for employee-related incidents, Google said it was launching a new internal portal for employees to report issues, such as harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider on Thursday that employees had said previous methods of reporting workplace issues were complicated and opaque.

Read more: Google launched a new internal portal to help employees report workplace issues, and it’s hoping the number of reports goes up as a result

Last November, 20,000 Google employees around the world walked out in protest over the company’s handling of sexual misconduct cases involving high-powered executives. 

Read Coligado’s full story here. 

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