James Damore: Labor Board Backs Google Anti-Diversity Memo Employee Sack

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on February 17th, 2018

Google’s decision to terminate the employment of James Damore, the programmer who wrote an anti-diversity memo, did not violate the law, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), has concluded, according to reports.

Damore in his 3,000 word memo argued that Google’s diversity initiatives were misguided. He also said biological differences explained why there were more men than women in tech jobs, claiming that men are more suited to high-stress jobs and less prone to neuroticism.

When he was fired in August, Damore accused Google of violating an employee’s right to engage in “concerted activity” to address workplace issues, a category that the labor board has found can include forms of activism including lawsuits, strikes and social media posts.

Damore claimed he was fired for challenging the company’s “ideological echo chamber.”

The National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB), concluded that James Damore’s memo was sufficient grounds for terminating his employment

Jayme Sophir, an associate general counsel for NLRB outlined his legal analysis in a six-page document. He wrote that the memo, which Damore forwarded to employees at Google last year, was “so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive” that it validated Google’s cause for firing him over “discriminatory statements.”

Jayme Sophir said “employers must be permitted to ‘nip in the bud’ the kinds of employee conduct that could lead to a ‘hostile workplace,’ ” and that Damore’s “stereotypical characterization of one gender” fell under that kind of behavior.

“Much of” Damore’s memo was probably protected under the law, the labor board’s attorney, Jayme Sophir wroe. But Sophir went on to find that Google discharged Damore only for his “discriminatory statements,” which aren’t shielded by labor law.

Because companies have a duty to comply with equal employment laws and an interest in promoting diversity, “employers must be permitted to ‘nip in the bud’ the kinds of employee conduct that could lead to a ‘hostile workplace,’ rather than waiting until an actionable hostile workplace has been created before taking action,” Sophir wrote.

The company “carefully tailored” its messages in firing Damore and in addressing employees afterward “to affirm their right to engage in protected speech while prohibiting discrimination or harassment.”

Google also disciplined one of Damore’s co-workers for sending him a threatening email in response to the memo, Sophir said.

Damore initially filed a wrongful termination suit, which he withdraw. His lawyer says he is now focusing on a class-action lawsuit against Google, which claims the company discriminates against conservative white men.

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