Google did not violate labour laws when it fired James Damore, a former employee who was ousted from the company last year for criticising the tech giant for its diversity policy, according to the federal agency that oversees employment practices.
“Employers must be permitted to ‘nip in the bud’ the kinds of employee conduct that could lead to a ‘hostile workplace,'” a lawyer with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) wrote in an agency memorandum made public this week, CNET reported.
Damore’s memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”, claims that when it comes to technology, there is a biological differences between men and women. Before his firing, Damore had filed a complaint with the NLRB that charged Google with “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints”.
But the NLRB lawyer said Google fired the computer engineer not for expressing dissenting views or criticism, but over “unprotected discriminatory statements” in his memo, which he had posted to internal discussion forums at the tech giant.
“Employers have a strong interest in promoting diversity and encouraging employees across diverse demographic groups to thrive in their workplaces,” attorney Jayme Sophir wrote in the memorandum. “The statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected,” Sophir stated.
Damore withdrew the NLRB complaint last month to focus on a lawsuit against Google. In his lawsuit filed in a California court, Damore said that Google “ostracised, belittled and punished” him and a fellow plaintiff. He added that he and others who share his views at Google long have been “singled out, mistreated, and systematically punished and terminated from Google, in violation of their legal rights”.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai had said he did not regret firing Damore. When asked about Google’s decision to fire Damore during an interview with MSNBC last month, Pichai said: “I don’t regret it. It was the right decision. “The last thing we do when we make decisions like this is look at it with a political lens.”