Many of the large technology companies are seen as a great place to work. Employees are expected to work hard and contribute to the cause, whatever this is, but are also given perks and benefits, many of which are intangible. Some of the benefits associated with working for a modern technology company include relative freedom – Google, for example, encourages employees to put 20-percent of their time towards other projects in addition to their stated job role. However, all companies do have a series of policies and rules put into place to protect the business, its customers and of course employees. Sometimes, these rules are broken and there may be consequences – and sometimes an employee will challenge these policies and any decision. This is what happened at the end of April 2016 when an unnamed Nest employee was apparently sacked from the business for posting defamatory memes in a private Facebook group.
Around two weeks later on the 17 May, this former Nest product manager lodged a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, against Nest Labs and parent business, Google. This complaint levels several serious allegations against the former employer. The story unfolds that the employee was fired for posting complaints about Nest's Chief Executive Officer, Tony Fadell, in a private Facebook group. The employee's termination letter explained that he was fired because his posts breached Google's "Data Classification Guidelines." Nest, and in particular Tony Fadell, has been criticized recently and a number of memes were leaked to the Re/Code website earlier in the year. It is said that the former employee told a Google security investigator that he did not send information to Re/Code or other reporters, but he had posted a number of memes to Facebook – which is the reason for him being fired. His lawyers believe that firing him because of these postings violates employment law.
If the case is successful, the National Labor Relations Board could force Nest to both rehire him and pay the salary that he would have earned should he not have been fired. Furthermore the NLRB could also force Google to change its human resources policies for all employees going forward. The ex-employee's lawyer wrote a statement that explains how Tony Fadell, the current Nest Chief Executive, is a bad leader and that the working environment within Nest is "a total mess." Critically, the statement goes on to explain that employees are being mistreated or fired because they are "exercising their protected rights to social sites like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat." Any victory for the ex-employee could cause all technology businesses to take another look at their own "Data Classification Guidelines."