Fired Google Engineer Made Big Move on Day He Was Fired

Was labor complaint a smart preemptive strike?
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 9, 2017 10:00 AM CDT
This Jan. 3, 2013, file photo shows Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.   (Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(Newser) – A 28-year-old former Google engineer who was fired over a memo he wrote about gender differences said Tuesday he's exploring all his legal options and has already filed a labor complaint over his treatment. James Damore, whose memo over the weekend caused an uproar online, said that prior to being fired on Monday he had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging he was subjected to "Coercive Statements (Threats, Promises of Benefits, etc.)." Damore notes it's illegal to fire someone in retaliation for going to the NLRB, though as Bloomberg puts it, he'd "have to prove he was trying to organize collective action among his fellow employees and was fired in retaliation for that." A Google rep said Tuesday that the company could not have retaliated because it didn't learn about the complaint until after he was fired.

Wired lays out the reasons why Damore may have a case, including California law related to protected activities when it comes to allegations of unequal employee treatment. The AP also notes Damore's filing with the NLRB cites a part of the labor relations act that gives employees the right to engage in "protected concerted" activities. That includes being active on social media, though it's unclear if his memo, written on a Google Doc and submitted to an employee-only forum, qualifies for such protection. Damore isn't the only one considering legal action. The Guardian reports more than 60 current and former female Google employees are weighing whether to file a class-action suit that zeroes in on alleged pay disparities, with some reportedly claiming they're paid about $40,000 less than their male counterparts. (Read more Google stories.)

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