A former, unnamed Google product manager is suing the Mountain View, CA company for claims that his former employer implements shady confidentiality practices, including encouraging its employees to rat out each other. The complaint states that it violates Californian labor laws.
The alleged violations are rooted deep into its internal confidentiality policy that aims to keep a tight lid on all things Google and flesh out into three policies that are at the core of the suit.
The first of such internal policies is that employees are warned not to write about anything illegal going on in the company, even and especially to its own lawyers. The reason being that such disclosures would lead to a paper trail which Google could be legally required to hand over in case of a trial like this one.
The second is that employees are prohibited from talking about Google’s internal workings with anyone, especially those outside the company. It even explicitly mentions the case of novels or documentaries about someone working at a Silicon Valley company, without Google first signing off on a draft.
And finally, and more pertinent to the plaintiff, Google’s policies encourages employees to police or even spy on other employees, with the goal of telling their bosses who’s leaking what information. The employee who brought the lawsuit was allegedly a victim of such a practice, which were grounds for the termination.
The above policies, however, clash with California’s labor laws, which encourage openness and freedom for employees to discuss matters, even among themselves. If Google is found in violation, it could end up paying $3.8 billion, 75% of which would go to the state. The rest would be distributed to Google’s employees, who could end up getting $14,600 each.
The company motto ‘Don’t be evil’ seems to take a leave of absence with the above accusations, but it isn’t the first time Google’s ethics have been called into question, the most recent of which relates to the company’s attempt to avoid paying tax-dues in the UK, for which it later ending up paying much less than officials believe should have been paid.