Three former Google employees have sued the tech giant for failing to abide by its well-known ?don?t be evil? conduct policy. They allege that the company fired them for raising concerns about its dealings with US border agencies.
In the lawsuit filed on Monday in a California court, the group accuses Google of participating in "evil," and then "terminating [their] employment...for adhering to the directive."
The three ex-workers were software engineers who claim the company wrongly fired them in 2019 over an unrelated data leak after they sent around an internal petition calling out its controversial cloud computing contract with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
The former employees, Rebecca Rivers, Sophie Waldman, and Paul Duke, are seeking unspecified financial damages on five counts, including "breach of contract" and slander - with Rivers alleging that the company's statements had "caused significant damage to [her] reputation and ability to become gainfully reemployed." Google has yet to comment on the matter.
According to an NPR report, Google fired the trio, and a fourth employee, in November 2019 for "clear and repeated violations" of its data security policies. But the former staffers have denied either accessing or leaking any confidential documents during their campaign. As well, they said that Google should be held accountable for not living up to its own motto.
"Google realized that 'don't be evil' was both costing it money and driving workers to organize," they said in a statement on Monday. "Rather than admit that their stance had changed and lose the accompanying benefits to the company image, Google fired employees who were living the motto."
The ex-employees claim they were trying to uphold the policy, which was apparently part of their contract when they were hired. In the lawsuit, they state that they had "protested Google's engagement in supporting CBP policies that resulted in separation of families and 'caging' of immigrants who were seeking asylum in the United States."
Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stated that Google "arguably violated" US labor laws by "unlawfully discharging" the three employees and alleged that they had been punished in retaliation for their activism. The NLRB previously filed a separate complaint against the company.