NLRA Lawsuit, Put Google Between ‘a Rock and a Hard Place’

Manifesto dispute highlights trickiness with NLRA protections

As employers have seen in national news, terminating an employee for controversial views doesn’t end the controversy.

Google finds itself in an unenviable legal position after it fired an employee on Aug. 7 for posting a controversial manifesto, and it now faces the ousted employee’s complaint alleging it violated his rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Shortly after the manifesto came to light, The Guardian reported that 60 former and current female employees were weighing a class action suit against Google for pay discrimination.

The tech giant’s situation — caught between a broadly enforced labor statute and growing public scrutiny over its pay practices — highlights the trickiness of making highly public personnel decisions for many employers, whether in Silicon Valley or Colorado.

Google became the focus of a heated gender gap debate when an employee’s manifesto criticizing the company’s diversity initiatives was leaked to the public. Former Google engineer James Damore published a 10-page internal memo accusing the company of creating an “ideological echo chamber” and hiring based on race and gender to try to boost representation of women and minorities among its ranks.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the August 21, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.