Margot Cleveland—As I cast my eyes toward the upcoming academic year, I’d like to publicly thank Google for providing a veritable semester-long case study on legal issues related to human resource management. From questions of free speech, employment at will, and labor relations, to questions of hostile environment, affirmative action, and retaliatory discharge, Google’s firing of James Damore has it all.
So far, most media reports have cast Damore’s firing as entirely legal. Some reporters have highlighted Damore’s status as an at-will employee, which allows Google to fire him for any lawful reason. Others have focused on Google’s status as a private employer, which means the First Amendment does not prohibit it from firing Damore because of his speech.
But contrary to the running narrative, Damore has two viable legal claims, evident from comments he made to The New York Times: “I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does.” Damore added that before his firing, he filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging Google was “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints.” He noted that it was “illegal to retaliate” against him for filing the NLRB charge.
Read more at The Federalist…
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