In what appears to be a huge victory for Google employees who don't ascribe to the ultra-liberal Silicon Valley monoculture, the National Labor Relations Board has reached a settlement with Google over complaints that the search giant punishes employees for speaking out on political and workplace issues that don't comport with the company's agenda.
The settlement, which was reportedly approved by an agency director this week, according to WSJ, comes in response to a pair of complaints filed by conservative employees about how the company handles workplace dissent.
One complainant, former engineer Kevin Cernekee, claims he was fired for expressing his right-leaning political views on an internal company message board (Google, for what it's worth, claims he was fired for "misusing company equipment")
Last month, President Trump tweeted his support for Cernekee, whose complaint became a cause celebre among conservatives.
.@sundarpichai of Google was in the Oval Office working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election, & that they...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2019
... are NOT planning to illegally subvert the 2020 Election despite all that has been said to the contrary. It all sounded good until I watched Kevin Cernekee, a Google engineer, say terrible things about what they did in 2016 and that they want to “Make sure that Trump losses...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2019
Fortunately for Google, the settlement is little more than a slap on the wrist: the company won't need to admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement, and the NLRB isn't requiring Google to reinstate Cernekee with back pay, as he had requested.
As part of the settlement, Google will be required to inform its employees that they are free to speak to the media about working conditions, wages and other work-related issues. The company will also be required to withdraw its final warning letter to Cernekee, which claimed he had violated a clause in the company's code of conduct requiring employees to "respect each other" in his message-board postings.
The other complainant is a current Google employee who claims he was punished for sharing "unflattering opinions" about a Google executive on Facebook.
According to WSJ, right-leaning Google employees have long maintained that expressing their beliefs can make them "lepers" among their fellow Googlers, as well as to the company's hiring managers. Some left-leaning employees, meanwhile, have complained that the company retaliated against them for raising concerns about YouTube's hate speech policies.
Google has long maintained that its company culture encourages open debate. Now, it's being held accountable to ensure that this is, in fact, the case.