Google breached 'don't be evil' pledge, ex-employees file suit
- Ex-employees said Google fired them for speaking up against the company’s rule violation
- Google has promoted “don’t be evil” as a core value for over 20 years
- Alphabet Workers Union is keeping a close eye on Google’s payment structure for contractual workers
A group of former Google employees have sued the technology company, alleging that it breached their employment contracts by not honouring its famous motto “don’t be evil”. The workers are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
In the lawsuit filed in California state court, former Google employees alleged that they were fired two years ago for fulfilling their contractual obligation to speak up if they saw Google violating its “don’t be evil” pledge, reported Reuters.
Google has promoted “don’t be evil” as a core value for over 20 years, including when it went public in 2004.
The three former Google software engineers had raised concerns at town halls and other forums inside Google about the company potentially selling cloud technology to US immigration authorities.
The workers considered the potential immigration work “evil” under Google’s policies, which call for “acting honorably and treating each other with respect” and engaging in “the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct”, according to the lawsuit. The company’s code of conduct says workers who think the company may be falling short of its commitment should not stay silent, the lawsuit said.
Google has said that the employees concerned violated data security policies. The company, however, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new lawsuit.
The three former employees’ firings also have led to a National Labour Relations Board trial over whether the company engaged in unfair practices to stem growing worker organizing.
In 2020, the NLRB's Republican majority at the time used a case involving General Motors Co. to establish a new precedent making it easier for companies to punish employees who say or do offensive things while they're exercising their legal rights to protest working conditions. But the labour board's Biden-appointed general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, has signalled she wants to pursue cases challenging that Trump-era precedent, and the Democrats -- who now have a majority on the NLRB -- could use a case like Carne's to overturn it.
Meanwhile, Alphabet Workers Union, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, has focused on the technology giant's sprawling contract workforce. Those workers typically earn far less and have fewer benefits than direct Google staff.