A federal body overseeing labor conflicts advised the dismissal of Jeremy Damore’s claim that Google fired him unjustly for his controversial memo considering inclusion and diversity programs at the company. Quoting similar precedents, the National Labor Relations Board counsel deemed parts of the memoranda “so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive” as to shed their status as protected speech in the workplace.
The NLRB memoranda, issued on January 16 and published publicly yesterday, does not constitute an official ruling or legal action. It is, however, the official advice of a federal lawyer who specializes in this field, and its conclusion, that the complaint be dismissed, would likely have been followed by the regional committee being advised. Instead, Damore receded the complaint.
In her handling of the complaint, Jayme Sophir( associate general counsel of the NLRB’s Division of Advice) examined the public documents relating to the occurrence — viz. the memo itself and the post by CEO Sundar Pichai , among other things — and internal ones, such as posts to employee forums and emails sent to and from Damore and others.
Sophir found that Damore’s memo contained a great deal of protected speech, as he clearly seems deeply concerned with company policies that he supposes discriminatory. His sentiments on those programs and advice for Google regarding them are surely protected, she found, and a document prepared by an HR manager ahead of speaking to Damore( not an email to him as I previously had set here) emphasizes this( brackets NLRB’s ):
I want to make clear that our decision is based solely on the part of your post that generalizes and advances stereotypes about females versus humen. It is not based in any way on the portions of your post that discuss[ the Employer’s] programs or trains, or how[ the Employer] can improve its inclusion of differing political views. Those are important points.
But she also cited several precedents where employees, in the course of “concerted activities considering working conditions, ” surpassed the binds of protected speech, such as the allegations that a foreman was a Klansman, or building degrading allusions to a co-worker’s sex orientation. These forms of speech could be banned and the speakers in question disciplined or fired “as a reasonable precaution against dissension and bitterness.”
Portions of Damore’s memo fell under the same category as these instances, Sophir received( brackets mine to construe redacted portions ).
The Charging Party’s use of stereotypes based on purported biological differences between women and men should not be treated differently than the types of conduct the Board observed unprotected in these cases.[ Damore’s] statements about immutable traits linked to sex–such as women’s heightened neuroticism and men’s prevalence at the upper part of the IQ distribution–were discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment , notwithstanding[ his] effort to cape[ his] remarks with “scientific” references and analysis, and notwithstanding[ his] “not all women” disclaimers.
Damore’s defenders have steadfastly maintained that the memoranda does not say outright that females are biologically less suited to engineering than men, and that critics are being uncharitable in their read of his arguments. While that may stand up in commentary segment arguments, it’s harder to assert that Sophir, an expert in the field who assesses such situations for her profession, failed to closely read the memo.
The charge that Google transgressed the law in firing Damore was advised to be dismissed, should he not withdraw the complaint — which he did. The instance was shut on January 19, three days after the NLRB’s memo was issued.
It’s not the end of the road for Damore, though this decisive refutation of his grievance is a significant and public setback. He has also filed a class action suit against the company and is agitating in other styles against the political correctness he feels led to his dismissal.
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