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What India Can Take Away From Google’s Settlement On Employee Freedom Of Expression

What India Can Take Away From Google’s Settlement On Employee Freedom Of Expression



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. One objection was documented by ex-Google engineer Kevin Cernekee, who claimed he was terminated for communicating conservative views. Google says that Cernekee was terminated for breaking numerous organisation policies, including using a personal device to download company records.

In 2015, when Erica Joy Baker, a previous Google engineer and current engineer manager at Microsoft, and a few of her coworkers made an internal document for staff members to self-report their salaries to better understand potential compensation inequalities for minorities and women, she informed she was punished by withholding multiple bonuses she had been nominated for. Then, there was a case when an engineer was fired for having opposing views. What's more, when Google published updated policies on employee conduct in August, experts contended that the company could utilise the new standards to smother dissent over Google's contracts with military or the immigration agency.

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.

What’s The Situation In India

In India, many key inquiries relating to the degree and way of controlling workers' privileges to discourse and rights to speech stay a hazy area in the absence of a particular law overseeing the subject. Be that as it may, similar to all other basic rights, the privilege to the right to speak freely of discourse and expression is likewise subject to reasonable confinements, in relation to decency, morality, slander, and so on according to the Indian law. 

See Also

Indian contract law enables employers to incorporate essential provisions to secure their sensitive information, privileged insights and other classified data from unapproved disclosures. As a way to enforce such protections, managers incorporate arrangements confining workers from unveiling private/restrictive data and empowering provisions which allow businesses to screen employees' utilisation of technology and communications systems.

On the other hand, the current legal structure in India hasn't addressed how employee activities on the web and additionally web-based social networking platforms can be regulated, however, the Information Technology Act, 2000 and associated sub-legislations cover web-based employee interactions to some degree. Indian employees have been utilising web-based social networking stages to raise grievances about their bosses, supervisors, associates, etc. Such occurrences could prompt defamation-related restrictions on the employees. 


Of late, the gig economy model has disrupted the traditional business model and is quickly changing the guidelines administering the employer-employee relationship. Given the spread of innovation, a specific level of business control over employee discourse has additionally turned out to be unavoidable. This pressure is enormously convoluted by the way that the web and social networking allow for discourse outside of work to be shared with millions of people quickly. In this way, matters that may once have been settled unobtrusively are frequently enhanced and heightened to such a degree like a case with Google. 

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