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Google to remind staff they can complain about work

Google protestImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Google staff walked out in 2018 to protest about the way misconduct by senior staff was handled

Google has been told to remind employees they have a right to complain about their job and conditions.

Letting staff know about their rights is part of a settlement Google has reached with the US National Labor Relations Board.

Google was in talks with the regulator after staff lodged reports about the way it handled complaints.

In late 2018, Google workers protested about the way it dealt with reports of sexual harassment by senior managers.

Managing misconduct

Under the settlement, Google will post notices telling staff that they can talk openly about work and are free to push for improvements to pay and workplace safety.

It must also emphasise that it will not retaliate against staff if they speak up.

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The deal was brokered following complaints by two staff members about the way they were treated.

One employee, engineer Kevin Cernekee, said he was fired in June 2018 because of his political views. Google said it let him go because he downloaded confidential material to a USB drive and broke other internal policies.

Details about the other complaint that prompted the Board to investigate have not been released.

Staff at Google staged a walkout and other protests in late 2018 following revelations about the way it handled accusations of misconduct, including sexual harassment, by senior staff.

The protests led Google to rewrite its internal policies, end forced arbitration of cases and won a promise that it would be more transparent about investigations.

Many of those involved in the protests said they suffered retaliation following the walkout. Google has denied taking any action against protesting staff.

Google’s internal policies and the way it handles staff relations were exposed to scrutiny in 2017 following its treatment of engineer James Damore.

Mr Damore wrote a memo suggesting genetic differences between men and women explained gender imbalances in the tech world.

The memo led to Mr Damore being fired for violating Google’s code of conduct. Legal action following his sacking is continuing.