A complaint lodged by an anonymous former product manager at Google has accused the internet search giant of infringing upon Californian labour laws through the confidentiality requirements it imposes on its staff. The lawsuit claims that Google discourages whistleblowing by explicitly forbidding employees from reporting illegal activities to the press, or even from reporting potentially dangerous product defects. Also among the host of things banned by Google’s confidentiality policies are rules which prohibit employees from discussing their base pay with future employers, from discussing their bosses’ performance with friends and family, or from penning creative fiction without advanced approval from Google if the protagonist works at a Silicon Valley tech company.
Claims 'baseless', says Google
The lawsuit accuses Google’s policy of being ‘unnecessarily and inappropriately broad’ and effectively amounts to an internal surveillance effort designed to cover up any illegal or questionable conduct within the company. If Google is found guilty of violating Californian labour laws, the company could be fined $100 for each other the 12 alleged violations, multiplied by the company’s 61,000 employees. The base fine doubles to $200 per pay period per employee for up to one year, meaning Google could face a maximum penalty of up to $3.8bn, or $14,6000 for each Google employee. A Google spokesperson has called the claim ‘baseless’, adding that transparency is a fundamental part of the company’s culture.