Is James Damore's Law Firm Preparing a Class Action Lawsuit Against Google?
The firm is looking for employees who have been “defamed/slandered/smeared/blacklisted at Google for political views, or views about affirmative action at Google.”
The law firm representing fired Google engineer James Damore says it's investigating the tech company for alleged employment discrimination over political views and "other protected characteristics."
Dhillon Law Group announced its probe in a release Wednesday morning. It claims Google has violated labor laws for retaliating against employees like Damore, a former Google software engineer who was fired this month for publishing a memo that argued gender gaps in STEM fields can be attributed to biological differences between men and women.
The firm implies that additional employees may file suit against the company.
"Numerous individuals have contacted us about this issue, but as their names are not public, I will not be commenting about their individual situations at this time," Harmeet Dhillon, a partner at the firm, told Motherboard in an email. In the past, the firm has launched class-action lawsuits in certain cases, but, in a follow up email, Dhillon would not confirm whether the firm was looking into a class-action suit in this case.
The San Francisco-based law firm, which specializes in business and labor litigation, is currently seeking information from Google employees about the following alleged actions:
Discriminated against at Google based on your political views;
Been written up for "un-Googly conduct" for refusing to comply with to the political orthodoxy at the company;
Retaliated against for complaining about employment discrimination at Google
Defamed/slandered/smeared/blacklisted at Google for your political views, or views about affirmative action at Google; or
Punished for blowing the whistle on illegal employment practices at Google?
In his own labor complaint against the company, Damore is being represented by Dhillon, Gregory Michael, and Ravdeep Grewal of Dhillon Law Group.
"We have strong policies against retaliation, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We also strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves. An important part of our culture is lively debate. But like any workplace that doesn't mean that anything goes, as we explained here," a Google spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.
Damore's complaint, which was filed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) this month, and partially obtained by Gizmodo, states that Google "interfered with, restrained, and coerced employees in the exercise of rights protected by Section 7 of the Act...by making threats of unspecified reprisals" against them.
Legally speaking, Google was within its rights to fire Damore as an at-will employee under California law. However, Damore says he filed an NLRB complaint prior to his dismissal, which means Google must prove that it didn't terminate Damore in retaliation against the charge.
Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act referred to in Damore's complaint, Google cannot lawfully interfere with group activities aimed at improving pay or working conditions.
Dhillon Law Group implies that it has multiple clients who could charge Google with discrimination complaints. It's unclear who, other than Damore, the firm is representing. As Motherboard reported, many Google employees internally defended Damore and his viewpoints, so it's possible other employees have interest in joining a potential lawsuit.
"I've been advised not to talk too much about my legal case, but I've been told that I can win it. It's been hard to decide on a lawyer because I don't really know how to distinguish between them, especially in my currently overwhelmed state," Damore wrote in a Reddit AMA this month.
In addition, more than 60 current and former employees say they are considering a gender discrimination class-action lawsuit against Google. These plaintiffs claim that women at Google consistently earn less than their male counterparts, and that the company fosters a "culture that is hostile to women."
This story has been updated to include a comment from Google.