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Google’s ‘Gag’ Rule for Workers Challenged in Class Suit

Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

By Kevin McGowan, Bloomberg BNA

Google Inc. is violating state law and constitutional guarantees by requiring its employees to sign overly broad confidentiality agreements that infringe their freedom to speak and work, according to a class lawsuit filed in California state court.

John Doe, an anonymous Google product manager, alleged the company effectively designates anything about the job as confidential and enforces its “gag” rule through threats of termination and legal action. Company policy bars even former Google employees from discussing their prior salary and working
conditions with new employers, the complaint filed Tuesday said.

Doe alleges myriad violations of California’s business and labor codes, as well as federal law violations to the extent Google bars current or former employees from speaking in confidence to government or other legal investigators. The lawsuit seeks relief under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act for Doe, the state and all of Google’s approximately 65,000 employees.

The case is Doe v. Google, Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 16-556034, complaint filed Dec. 20, 2016.

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