January 17, 2018
Partner Mark Konkel
was quoted in The Recorder
article “After Google Memo Suit, How Should Companies Handle Digital Discussions on Diversity?,” discussing former Google employee James Damore’s lawsuit brought against the tech giant after he was fired for posting a rant on internal discussion boards claiming women were unsuited for engineering and computer science positions based on their biology. The article also discussed how the use of message boards and forums within organizations were implemented to foster discussions on such hot topics, such as diversity in the workplace.
What responsibility, legally, do companies have to manage those forums? It’s an issue that seems especially relevant with the rise of group communication tools like Slack and Google Hangouts in the workplace.
“The real key to reducing liability is not maintaining a static policy on a shelf somewhere, but actively engaging employees,” said Mark. He noted that while email and internal chats or message boards have similar traits — they’re all fast, informal, and electronic — chat tools have particular qualities that seem to lead employees to be more unfiltered.
“In other words, you have people thinking less and writing more than they otherwise would. I expect in the future to be trafficking in cases in which a lot of the damning evidence, if there is any, comes in that electronic form.”
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