When you start a business, you have specific goals and ideals in mind. In addition to delivering a quality good or service, you also want your customers to be happy about working with you.
Establishing your business and your brand means talking about the traits that set you apart, which can include a company motto. In a recent lawsuit that includes Google, owners and workers alike are waiting to find out the weight of a company motto.
Here’s what you should know about the pending litigation and what it could mean for other businesses.
How did Google get here?
Several years ago, Google announced a company motto that was, simply, “don’t be evil.” The policy went on to discuss that, as a company, they should act honorably, treat each other with respect and strive for “the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct.”
Three former employees filed a lawsuit against Google for wrongful termination after they voiced their concern regarding the company selling their cloud technology to U.S. immigration authorities. The software engineers felt that the conduct of the immigration authorities violated the company’s motto.
The company stated that the employees violated data security policies when they organized themselves and others and publicly petitioned Google to commit to not working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Does a motto create a contractual obligation?
In this case, Google told employees they should “not stay silent” if they think the company is violating its motto. The workers, then, took this as an obligation to take action when they disagreed with the steps the company was taking.
Ultimately, the verdict for this case will guide other businesses on the intersection between data security, business practices and disclosures made by employees.