Labor Board Rules Googles Firing of James Damore Was Legal

Google did not violate federal labor law when it fired James Damore, a lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concluded in a lightly-redacted memo made public Thursday. The former senior software engineer was fired from Google in August after internally circulating a ten-page memo arguing in part that women are not as biologically suited for coding jobs as men. After he was terminated, Damore filed a complaint with the NLRB, arguing that Google had violated his right to participate in protected activity, namely addressing problems in his workplace. The NLRB memo disagrees with Damore's complaint, and recommends dismissing it, were it not withdrawn.

Damore dropped the NLRB complaint last month to instead focus on a class action lawsuit he and another former Google employee brought against the company accusing it of discriminating against white, male, and conservative employees. The NLRB memo released Friday was written by attorney Jayme Sophir in January—less than ten days after Damore filed his lawsuit.

Sophir concluded that Damore's memo contained both protected statements (like criticizing Google) and not protected statements (perpetuating stereotypes about women), and that Google ultimately fired Damore for things he said that were not protected under federal law. Sophir wrote in her memo that workplaces should have the ability to "'nip in the bud' the kinds of employee conduct that could lead to a 'hostile workplace.'"

She also said that Damore's statements about women in his memo "were discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment, notwithstanding effort to cloak comments with 'scientific' references and analysis, and notwithstanding 'not all women' disclaimers. Moreover, those statements were likely to cause serious dissension and disruption in the workplace." Sophir's memo also cites two instances in which women withdrew their candidacy for engineering positions at Google after learning about the existence of Damore's memo.

“We are gratified that the NLRB General Counsel found that Google acted lawfully in not allowing this employee to create a hostile work environment," Cameron Fox and Al Latham, attorneys from the firm Paul Hastings, which represents Google, said in an emailed statement.

More on Damore's Memo

This story has been updated with comment from Paul Hastings attorneys Cameron Fox and Al Latham.

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