Google: Legal Battles and Changing Work Experience
(7 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
Google was once considered a dream place to work at for people in the technology industry. However, the company has faced fierce criticism in recent years for its attempts to suppress the voice of its employees. The past few years have been tumultuous for the company, which has had to grapple with employee protests over the mishandling of sexual harassment claims, retaliation for expression of their disagreement with company policies, and ethic crises related to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. For a long time, workers at Google have enjoyed what has become known as the legendary standards of a democratic workplace and corporate perks. Recently, however, they have taken to the streets to protest the destructive work culture of the company. Some discontented employees left the company; others were allegedly fired in retaliation for their actions.
Google had historically been characterized as “least bad” among technology giants in terms of the freedom of expression allowed to employees. Is this changing? Why were Google’s employees discouraged from voicing their challenges? What approach should company adopt to maintain the trust of employees in channels provided for freedom of expression of its employees? Could the termination of vocal employees be treated as unlawful retaliation? Has Google been struggling to handle workplace harassment complaints? Would alleged improper handling of workplace sexual harassment attract a legal action against the company? How Google should handle workplace harassment complaints in future to avoid legal battles?
The case can be used in postgraduate-level courses, management development programs, and leadership development workshops. In postgraduate-level courses, the case can cover the following subject areas: human resource management, talent management, employer branding, entrepreneurs and human resources for entrepreneurial ventures, and legal aspects of the employer–employee relationship. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- discuss the work experience change as an entrepreneurial venture grows;
- compare the importance of employee voice versus silence;
- assess how firing and employee retention become a burning issue for peers and an organization;
- discuss the legal perspective on employees’ rights against retaliation in the workplace;
- review the points an employer should consider to appropriately handle workplace harassment and misconduct complaints; and
- describe an employer’s legal obligations to protect employees against sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
United States, Large, 2020
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