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Google contractors allege company prevents them from whistleblowing, writing Silicon Valley novels

  • A California appeals court recently discussed an employee lawsuit against Google and staffing firm Adecco, stating their non-disclosure agreements are too wide-ranging.
  • The workers allege they can’t do things like report violations of the law, or even more menial things like write a novel about working in Silicon Valley.
  • The appeals filing comes as Google faces mounting challenges related to its workforce.



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Google contract employees are alleging the company’s confidentiality agreements prevent them from a range of legal rights from whistleblowing to telling their parents how much they make, according to a recent court filing.

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A California appeals court recently discussed a lawsuit accusing Alphabet’s Google and one of its staffing firms, Adecco, of violating a number of California labor laws, including free speech, by requiring workers to sign extensive confidentiality agreements.

The contractors state they can’t talk about their wages, working conditions or colleagues, among other things, according to the court filing. 

“As a practical matter, plaintiffs argue, they are forbidden even to write a novel about working in Silicon Valley or to reassure their parents they are making enough money to pay their bills, matters untethered to any legitimate need for confidentiality,” the filing states.

Google and Adecco did not immediately return requests for comment.

Google faces a number of challenges related to its workforce, in addition to external antitrust scrutiny. The company this week reached a $310 million settlement in a sexual misconduct lawsuit, which included more than 80 updates to internal policies. That settlement included ending forced arbitration for its workforce and updating non-disclosure agreements to allow full-time workers to discuss facts of cases related to harassment or discrimination,. But it did not definitively cover vendors — instead, the settlement said Google would “encourage” its vendors to revisit their NDA

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Google contractors allege NDAs violate free-speech laws

Carsten Koall | Getty Images

Google contract employees are alleging the company’s confidentiality agreements prevent them from a range of legal rights from whistleblowing to telling their parents how much they make, according to a recent court filing.

A California appeals court recently discussed a lawsuit accusing Alphabet’s Google and one of its staffing firms, Adecco, of violating a number of California labor laws, including free speech, by requiring workers to sign extensive confidentiality agreements.

The contractors state they can’t talk about their wages, working conditions or colleagues, among other things, according to the court filing. 

“As a practical matter, plaintiffs argue, they are forbidden even to write a novel about working in Silicon Valley or to reassure their parents they are making enough money to pay their bills, matters untethered to any legitimate need for confidentiality,” the filing states.

Google and Adecco did not immediately return requests for comment.

Google faces a number of challenges related to its workforce, in addition to external antitrust scrutiny. The company this week reached a $310 million settlement in a sexual misconduct lawsuit, which included more than 80 updates to internal policies. That settlement included ending forced arbitration for its workforce and updating non-disclosure agreements to allow full-time workers to discuss facts of cases related to harassment or discrimination,. But it did not definitively cover vendors — instead, the settlement said Google would “encourage” its vendors to revisit their NDA policies.

Google contractors — known internally as “TVCs” for temps, vendors or contractors — don’t have access to the same policies and perks as regular Google employees, even though they make up more than half of Google’s total workforce. Contractors have long complained about the two-tier system, which became more glaring when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

At the time, the company began cracking

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Google Contractor Alleges Disability Discrimination in Mass Email

A contractor who works on Google’s G Suite for Higher Education/Google For Education team alleged Google discriminated and retaliated against her after she suffered a knee injury in 2019 by removing her from team meetings, in a complaint reviewed by Motherboard that was filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights on Wednesday. 

In a mass email sent on Wednesday to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and thousands of Google employees, a sales development representative for the vendor Vaco who works in Google’s New York City office, wrote that in 2019 Google requested her employer Vaco place her on a continuous performance improvement plan for failing to attend meetings without prior warnings, write-ups, or documentation of the meetings she missed. She claims she never missed meetings with notifying her team beforehand. 

The allegations follow many reports about Google’s differential treatment of its temps, vendors, and contractors (known as “TVCs”)—a second tier of workers that makes up at least half of Google’s workforce. TVCs often do not receive perks and benefits of full employment at Google, such as paid time off, high salaries, and invitations to company-wide all-hands meetings. Google’s two-tier workforce has sparked some of the recent worker-led activism and backlash against Google. In 2018, Google’s TVCs published a letter to CEO Pichai, charging that this system at Google was perpetuating institutionalized sexism, racism, and discrimination at the company. In 2019, 80 Google tech contractors in Pittsburgh voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers with the intent of raising their wages and expanding their benefits to more closely reflect those received by full-time Google employees. 

According to the contractor’s complaint filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights, Google discriminated against her for a “knee injury,” by denying her training, giving her a disciplinary notice, denying her

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Google Chromecast hits Home Depot shelves ahead of official launch, report says

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We’re just two days away from the new Chromecast, but some have been able to buy it already. 


XDA Developers

Two days before Google’s Pixel 5 event, Google’s rumored new Chromecast has been spotted for sale at Home Depot for $50. People on social media as well as tech site The Verge said they were able to purchase the still unannounced streaming device at the home improvement retailer. The receipt listed the new Chromecast as “Sabrina-Abbey Rock Candy,” the hardware’s codename, according to The Verge. 

Read more: Best streaming device of 2020: Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield and more compared

CNET reached out to Google for comment and we’ll update when we hear back.

The new device apparently isn’t available at all Home Depot locations, so you might not have any luck if you try to score one early yourself. One Reddit user came across one on Sunday and posted a photo: 

After a leak earlier this year, Google’s Chromecast Ultra successor has been spotted at a host of retailers for between $50 and $60, including Walmart. Earlier this month, Google’s yet-to-be-released Nest Audio device was also spotted at a Walmart. 

We should learn more about the new Chromecast with Google TV at the tech giant’s “Launch Night In” event on Wednesday. Stay tuned!

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