INFORMAL at the pub: How should Google manage employees' expression of opinion?

This is a past event

8 people went

The Irish Bank

10 Mark Ln · San Francisco, CA

How to find us

Go to the back and look for people arguing loudly about hot-button social issues

Location image of event venue


This will NOT be a regular debate, but a more informal discussion at the pub. (Our next scheduled regular debate will be on Monday, October 7, at the Mechanics Institute Library, on a topic yet to be decided -- because we try to stay current.)

On September 9, 2019, Google reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over a complaint filed in 2015 by former employee Kevin Cernekee, who argued that he was unfairly dismissed for being an outspoken conservative. As part of the settlement, Google announced new Community Guidelines for employee discussions. You can read those Guidelines here:

Two years ago, SFDebate organized a debate about Google's firing of James Damore for having shared a 10-page memo about workplace diversity. Read about that debate here, with relevant links and many insightful comments by SFDebaters:
Our link to Damore's memo doesn't work anymore, but you can find it on his website, here:

In early 2018, Damore and another former Google employee, David Gudeman, brought a class-action lawsuit against Google for unlawful discrimination on the basis of (i) "their perceived conservative political views", (ii) "their male gender", and/or (iii) "their Caucasian race". Here you can read the 161-page complaint that they filed in court:
It contains a lot of material to which different people will react in different ways.

We don't have Google's response to Damore & Gudeman's lawyers, but there was another lawsuit filed in early 2018 by fired employee Tim Chevalier, who charged Google with retaliating against him for identifying the company's "structural discrimination" against "multiple minority groups that were underrepresented in Google's workforce", and for his vocal objections to "discriminatory and harassing comments on internal social forums." Chevalier's legal complaint is here:
It is only 20 pages long, but if you want to see more from Chevalier's side, read this article:
In 2017, Chevalier posted this long essay against Damore's memo, and it is one of the reasons that Google cited for firing Chevalier:

The NLRB's website has a page about Cernekee's complaint against Google, but there's no accessible information there:

What would you do if you were running Google? Would you encourage spirited discussions of political and social issues (like the kind we have at SFDebate) among your employees, on internal forums? Or, like most non-academic employers, would you discourage it or clamp down on it because it's a distraction to getting work done, or can make some employees feel threatened? How would you draw the line between opinions that are OK to broadcast at work, and opinions that are not? What do you think of the points made by Damore & Gudeman, on the one hand, and by Chevalier, on the other?

Since we're not paying for the space, there is no fee for this event. But if you want to be a good customer, you should buy something to eat or drink.

And as always, if you have ideas for future SFDebate topics, this would be a good place to share them, especially if you want to be a speaker.