A Google product manager has sued the company for its confidentiality agreements, policies and practices, claiming that the confidentiality agreement is illegal in the state of California.
Most employees working at high-tech companies need to sign a non-disclosure, but this person claims that Google took the confidentiality agreement too far by prohibiting employees from speaking internally about illegal conduct and dangerous product defects.
“The policies prohibit Googlers from speaking to their spouse or friends about whether they think their boss could do a better job," according to the document filed with the California Superior Court City and County of San Francisco.
The complaint alleges that the company’s confidentiality policies restricts the "Googler's right to speak, right to work, and right to whistle-blow," and are contrary to the California Labor Code, public policy and the interests of the state.
The lawsuit first reported by The Information warns Googlers to not put "into writing concerns about potential illegal activity within Google, even to the company’s own attorneys, because the disclosures could fall into the hands of regulators and law enforcement."
It also requires that Google sign off on the final draft of any novel that any employee might write about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley.
Most confidentiality agreements are designed to protect the intellectual property of the business, rather than stifle the creativity of the employee or protect companies from illegal practices.
Typically, Google does not comment on pending litigation, but in this case a Google spokesperson called the lawsuit "Baseless," according to Mashable. "We will defend this suit vigorously because it’s baseless," per a Google spokesperson, Mashable reports. "We're very committed to an open internal culture, which means we frequently share with employees [the] details of product launches and confidential business information. Transparency is a huge part of our culture."