The lawsuit claims that three former Google employees were fired after protesting the company’s proposed contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
A group of former Google employees have filed a lawsuit against their ex-employer, claiming it breached their contracts by not living up to its motto, “Don’t be evil.”
According to The Guardian, former Google employees Rebecca Rivers, Sophie Waldman, and Paul Duke filed a lawsuit alleging they were fired after fulfilling their contractual obligation to speak up if they saw Google or its management violating the company’s “don’t be evil” pledge.
Google, notes The Guardian, has advertised “don’t be evil” as a core corporate value for more than twenty years.
Even after Google went public in 2004, the company has stood by its motto.
However, the plaintiffs’ lawsuit states that the three former Google employees faced retaliation after raising concerns about the company’s potential contract with United States immigration authorities at a time when the Trump administration was enforcing family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The employees, says The Guardian, considered the potential contract “evil” under Google policy, which advocates “acting honorably and treating each other with respect” and engaging in “the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct.”
Google’s internal code of conduct mandates that workers who feel that the company is not living up to its pledge must speak out.
Google later justified the employees’ firing by saying they leaked information and had used “systematic searches” to access information “outside the scope of their job.”
However, the former employees say they were never told they had violated any “data security policy,’” and that “[they] only searched for and reviewed documents in Google’s data base that any and all other full-time employees could have found and reviewed on their own.”
Rather than violating any data policy, the plaintiffs claim that Google retaliated against them for raising questions about how the company’s ethics align with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission
At the time the three employees were fired, C.B.P. was actively separating migrant children from their parents and families.
“Rivers, Waldman and Duke each engaged in activities consistent with Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ contractual obligation,” alleges the lawsuit, which was obtained by Vice News. “Specifically, they questioned Google management regarding its intent to enter into a contract with the Trump administration’s Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and/or Office of Refugee Resettlement agencies.”
“[E]ach plaintiff protested Google’s engagement in supporting BCP policies that resulted in separation of families and ‘caging’ of immigrants who were seeking asylum in the United States,” the complaint states.
AppleInsider notes that the employees have also sued Google through the National Labor Relations Board.
In that complaint, the plaintiffs assert that Google fired them for engaging in “labor organizing activity,” as they had written petitions and encouraged other Google employees to challenge the company’s intended collaboration with U.S immigration authorities.