Google has recently been accused by its product manager of violating California labor laws via its restrictive confidentiality policies. The employee filed a lawsuit in San Francisco with the California Superior Court, alleging that the search giant is running an internal “spying program” that motivates employees to report co-workers who are suspected of leaking information to the press, according to The Information.
Containing leaks to media
The Verge obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which reads, “Google’s motto is ‘don’t be evil.’ Google’s illegal confidentiality agreements and policies fail this test.”
Google has made this strict policy to ensure that confidential and sensitive information is not leaked to the media. According to the lawsuit, any employee found to be guilty of leaking confidential information is terminated. The lawsuit also alleges that a Google co-founder (we do not know whether it is Larry Page or Sergey Brin) said at an all-hands meeting that employees who leak confidential data will be terminated.
Google, according to the lawsuit, operates a program called “Stop Leaks,” which motivates employees to report suspicious behavior, including other employees asking detailed questions about work, projects or other important things.
Further, the lawsuit states that confidential or sensitive information is classified as “everything at Google,” which bars employees from talking about the condition of their workplace with members of the investment community, press, partners, or someone else outside of Google.
Google faces a hefty fine
The lawsuit further alleges that Google’s policies prohibit employees from reporting illegal activities that happen inside the internet giant, even to the company’s lawyers. In addition, there is a policy that prevents employees from writing a novel about working for a Silicon Valley corporation. The employees require Google’s permission before writing any such novel.
Google could pay as much as $3.8 billion in total if found guilty of the alleged violations of California labor laws. Of this big amount, about 75% of the penalty will be collected by the state, and the other 25% will be distributed to Google’s 65,000 employees. That means each employee would get at least $14,600, according to The Information. If any of the violations persisted past a single pay period, the fine doubles.
The Information confirmed that the person who filed the lawsuit is the same who filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the same kind of confidentiality policies earlier this year. His name in the suit was “John Doe.”