White conservative males who allege that liberal bias at Google Inc. doomed their chances of getting hired by the tech giant cleared the first hurdle to proceed with their lawsuit.

A California state judge on Thursday tentatively rejected Google’s request to dismiss claims brought by two men who say they were turned down for jobs because of their race, gender — and politics. Still, the judge cautioned it won’t be easy for the men to prevail on their “novel” theory that Google is biased against “political conservatives” — a term the company argues is too vague to support a class-action suit.

The fight started in August 2017 when Google fired an engineer, James Damore, who had posted a 3,000-word attack on the company’s diversity policies. Damore later sued over his dismissal and his case became a rallying point for conservatives who say that Google, Facebook and Twitter are hostile to their views.

The company forced Damore and another ex-Googler who joined his suit to take their claims into private arbitration, while the two men who didn’t get jobs at the company proceed in court. One is described in filings as a lawyer and former Navy pilot who worked in the late 1990s as a staffer for a Republican congressman and the other is a copywriter, consultant and entrepreneur who frequently posts conservative material on social media.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the ruling. A hearing is set for Friday in San Jose.

Google argued that the lawsuit failed to adequately identify who fits into the alleged group of employees and job applicants who were discriminated against because of their political views.

The judge said he has “doubts regarding the viability” of the proposed class, but that it’s too soon to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims outright.

Google also failed to persuade the judge to throw out an allegation that it discriminated against Asian job applicants.

The company pointed out that no Asians remained in the group that filed the suit and that it wasn’t proper for that claim to be carried forward by a plaintiff who identifies himself as white. The judge said it didn’t matter because the plaintiff is claiming discrimination against both Caucasian and Asian job seekers.