Google workers say NDAs ban whistleblowing, violate free speech

  • Google contractors¬†alleged in a lawsuit that they were required to sign illegal nondisclosure agreements that prevented them from whistleblowing and violated their free speech rights.
  • According to a California court’s discussion of the legal proceedings, the workers claimed Google’s rules barred them from reporting “violations of state and federal law,” “unsafe or discriminatory working conditions,” and “wage and hour violations.”
  • The workers, some of whom were employed via the staffing agency Adecco, claimed they couldn’t even write “novels” or “reassure their parents they are making enough money to pay their bills.”
  • Google’s contract workers have increasingly raised issues over how they’re treated compared to full-time employees.
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Google contractors have alleged in a lawsuit that they’re required to sign illegal nondisclosure agreements that violate their rights of “competition, whistleblowing, and freedom of speech” under California law.

In the lawsuit, which a California appellate court discussed in a ruling last week, the workers accused Google and Adecco, the staffing agency through which some of them were employed, of violating their legal rights to discuss a range of workplace issues.

Google and Adecco did not respond to requests for comment.

“Google’s confidentiality rules prevent employees from disclosing violations of state and federal law, either within Google to their managers or outside Google to private attorneys or government officials,” they alleged, according to the court, including “disclosing information about unsafe or discriminatory working conditions, or about wage and hour violations.”

“They are forbidden even to write a novel about working in Silicon Valley or to reassure their parents they are making enough money to pay their bills, matters untethered to any legitimate need for confidentiality,” the court said of the workers.

The contracts also allegedly barred employees from talking about the “skills, knowledge, and experience they