A former Google recruiter has sued the company, claiming he was fired because he spoke against the rejection of white and Asian male candidates for certain jobs. He said recruiters were told on several occasions to cancel interviews with applicants who were not female, black or Hispanic, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Google has rejected the allegation and said it would challenge the lawsuit “vigorously”, according to Bloomberg. The lawsuit was filed in a California court by Arne Wilberg, who worked at Google and YouTube for about nine years. He claimed he was sacked after he complained to the human resources department about the hiring practices.

The technology company has often been criticised in the past for overdoing its efforts to ensure the presence of historically underrepresented groups in its workforce.

In the lawsuit, Wilberg said Google has “irrefutable policies, memorialised in writing and consistently implemented in practice, of systematically discriminating in favour [of] job applicants who are Hispanic, African-American, or female, and against Caucasian and Asian men”.

In March 2017, a YouTube staffing manager emailed recruiters to ask them to consider only “candidates that are from historically underrepresented groups” for certain positions, Wilberg claimed.

“We have a clear policy to hire candidates based on their merit, not their identity,” Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano told Bloomberg. “At the same time, we unapologetically try to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for open roles, as this helps us hire the best people, improve our culture, and build better products.”

This lawsuit came months after Google fired James Damore, a software engineer who wrote an internal memo that questioned the company’s policies on diversity and claimed there are fewer women engineers because of their “biological differences”. Damore filed a lawsuit against the company in January.