Google diversity memo writer's firing was legal: NLRB


James Damore was a Google engineer who distributed a memo that was critical of Google's diversity training program, and that also posited that underrepresentation of women in the tech industry and in leadership may be caused by innate differences between men and women. Specifically, his memo suggested that women's "neuroticism" and differences in the distribution of IQs could be the explanation.

Google fired Damore, and Damore went to the NLRB and charged Google with an unfair labor practice. His theory was pretty simple: He was engaged in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection (protected by Section 7 of the NLRA), and firing him violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA.

The NLRB's local Regional Director asked the NLRB's Advice Office for advice, and the answer was that Google's actions were lawful. [PDF]

The Advice Office's reasoning was that, although much of Damore's memo was protected activity, distributing his ideas about sexual stereotypes violated Google's policy against sexual discrimination and harassment.  And Google fired him for violating the discrimination and harassment policy and not because of his protected activity. Therefore, it was lawful to fire him.

The Advice Office said that Damore's statements "were likely to cause serious dissension and disruption in the workplace." And, indeed, there was evidence that there were some serious disruptions.

So the local Regional Director will now dismiss Damore's charge.

Meanwhile, Damore has brought a court action against Google in which he says, "Google’s open hostility for conservative thought is paired with invidious discrimination on the basis of race and gender."