Google sued for encouraging employees to spy on each other

"Don't be evil." That's supposedly Google's corporate motto but as many would attest, it might simply be Google poking fun at the very idea of doing nothing evil. Because that is precisely what Google is usually caught doing, depending on who you ask. If you ask a former Google product manager, that is definitely the case as far as California labor laws are concerned. Suing his former employer, this ex-Google drone claims Google implements shady confidentiality practices, including encouraging its minions to rat out each other.

Google's illegal labor practices actually go much, much deeper. At the very root is its internal confidentiality policy that aims to keep a tight lid on things inside Google and prevent leaks. As if those really work anyway. Those policies take flesh in three concrete ways.

First 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 a disclosure 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. The employee who brought the lawsuit was allegedly a victim of such a practice, which are grounds for termination.

Those 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 guilty, 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.

SOURCE: The Information