Google espoused the mantra of “don’t be evil” when it launched its initial public offering in 2004. The saying was created by Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In 2015, parent company Alphabet changed this to “do the right thing.” However, a new lawsuit filed against the company has called this mantra into question. The employee responsible for the lawsuit claims Google’s confidentiality agreements are so broad that they violate California labor laws.
According to the lawsuit, employees are forbidden from discussing illegal conduct or potentially dangerous product defects with the press or government officials. The employee responsible for filing the lawsuit also claims Google has an internal spying program to uncover workers in violation of these rules. Google claims the spying program is designed to prevent leaks.
However, the alleged policies also keep Google employees from discussing how much money they make or what work they performed when searching for new jobs. There are also allegations Google keeps employees from discussing the performance of their supervisors with friends or family.
How Do California Labor Laws Protect Google Employees?
The lawsuit against Google was brought under the California Private Attorneys General Act. This law allows employees to sue on behalf of other employees. Under this law, Google could face penalties in the tens of millions of dollars. An important factor at the moment is how Google has enforced its strict communication policies.
There are also whistleblower laws to consider. If Google were to retaliate against employees for reporting illegal activity, it would run afoul of the law. Employers cannot retaliate against workers for reporting illegal activities or violations. The California Whistleblower Protection Act protects whistleblowers reporting violations either internally (to management) or externally (to public officials or organizations).
Workers who face retaliation for whistleblowing may be able to seek damages against their employer. An experienced labor law attorney can help workers explore possible legal options to hold their employer accountable.