Employee Sues Google For Being Too Secretive And Confidential

A former Google employee is suing the search giant over what the suit claims are illegal confidentiality rules, according to a story on Computerworld. This program is created to encourage employees to report suspicious behavior, which can include other employees asking questions about projects or other work details.

A report from The Information declares that Google received a lawsuit from a project manager who says that the company's internal confidentiality policies are basically "illegal".

Reached by phone, Doe's lawyer Chris Baker, of the San Francisco-based firm Baker Curtis & Schwartz, said Google's policies, "which are discussed at length in the suit, say the lawsuit is not baseless and Google is not transparent".

The filing describes a team called "Global Investigations" - led by Brian Katz - which allegedly helps to enforce the "illegal confidentiality policies" by running the company-wide operation which aims to "deter employees from asking questions".

He says this tense atmosphere prevents employees from complaining about working conditions, fearing that if they do so that some other employee might report them as a likely source of a media leak. He says they can't even talk to spouses or friends about whether their boss could do a better job.

Doe alleges myriad violations of California's business and labor codes, as well as federal law violations to the extent Google bars current or former employees from speaking in confidence to government or other legal investigators.

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Additionally, the company won't allow employees to discuss pay and the Google work experience with potential new employers.

Doe adds: "Google defines essentially everything as 'confidential information.' However, a publicly traded company with Google's reach, power, and close ties to the federal government can not be permitted to declare to its workforce that everything it does and everything that happens - from the location of a water cooler to serious violations of the law - is 'confidential, ' upon the pain of termination and the threat of ruinous litigation".

The clearest evidence of paranoia is a provision that bars employees from writing "a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley".

It has further been added that if Google is found to be guilty of twelve violations then the state would ask the company to payout as much as $3.8 billion. "We're very committed to an open internal culture, which means we frequently share with employee's details of product launches and confidential information". The employee has simply chosen to go with the name John Doe and uncovered some internal secrets in the disclosed documents.

A spokesperson for Mountain View, California-based Google, a unit of Alphabet, said in a statement that the claims were "baseless" and said the agreements were created to protect sensitive business information and not to bar employees from discussing working conditions.

  • Desiree Holland