The US National Labor Relations Board has ordered Google to remind its staff that it’s inside their privileges to straightforwardly discuss political and workplace issues. The order came because of regulators arriving at an agreement on a proposed settlement on worker grievances that the organisation limits free discourse, a Google representative said. The settlement, which was approved this week, pursues after Google published revised community guidelines that were intended to get serious about what employees can say inside the organisation.
“Community guidelines exist to support the healthy and open discussion that has always been a part of our culture. They help create an environment where we can come together as a community in pursuit of our shared mission and serve our users. Working at Google comes with tremendous responsibility. Billions of people rely on us every day for high-quality, reliable information. It’s critical that we honour that trust and uphold the integrity of our products and services. If necessary we will remove particular discussion forums, revoke commenting, viewing, or posting privileges, or take disciplinary action,” Google had announced in August in its community guidelines.
For long, Google has cultivated a culture of free discourse and discussion inside the organisation, with employees frequently getting into heated discussions about political and social issues. This has prompted broad discussions inside the company on what the limits of free speech should be. Numerous present and previous Google workers have stood up openly about the issue.
Now, Google has settled and made changes in its policy. “Under that settlement, we have agreed to post a notice to our employees reminding them of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. As part of that notice, we will also remind employees of the changes we made to our workplace policies back in 2016 and 2017 that clarified those policies do not prevent employees from discussing workplace issues,” Google’s spokesperson Jenn Kaiser said in a statement.
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Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.