If you are planning to write the Great American Novel and you work on Google, you might want to think again as the subject of the office. The tech giant has been sued about confidentiality policies that ostensibly ban employees from, among other things, the writing of novels “about someone working at a technical company in Silicon Valley” without Google’s approval, the Guardian reports.
The lawsuit, spotted by the Information, was filed this week by an unnamed product manager who claims that Google with a “spy program” that encourages employees to snitch on their colleagues.
The legal action against Google’s policy violates California and federal free speech laws, and the limit of the workers from seeking other jobs, because they are not all their job skills.
“Google’s motto is” do no evil.” Google illegal non-disclosure agreements and policies fail this test,” the lawsuit claims. Among other no-nos: writing critical opinions, discuss the workplace conditions and wages, speak to the press, or to suggest that anything “illegal” going on, including government regulators.
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That includes sending an e-mail that says, “I think we broke the law” or ” I think that we are violating this contract,'” notes SFist. The suit was brought by an employee on behalf of another, and follows a similar complaint filed earlier this year with the National Labor Relations Board.
The Guardian notes that if the employee prevails, 75% of the fine would go to the state coffers, with the rest shared by the employees of Google. That punishment could be up to $4 billion.
Google called the suit “unfounded” and says in a statement that “transparency is a big part of our culture. Our employee confidentiality, terms and conditions are intended for the protection of proprietary information, while not preventing employees from disclosing information about the terms and conditions of employment, or of issues in the workplace.” (Microsoft sued the fbi after 5,624 requirements for the data of the client came with 2,576 gag orders.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Roman Writing a No-No with Google: Lawsuit