Should Google Be Allowed to Fire Employees for Their Beliefs?

Human resources expert weighs in

Google FiringThe recent controversy over the now infamous Google Memo (and the author’s subsequent firing) has many Americans wondering if free speech is allowed in the workplace. What rules govern our ability to express ourselves in the office, and was the termination of the senior software engineer fair?

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and human resources expert, says, “Google ultimately decided to fire employee James Damore because they said that his memo advanced harmful gender stereotypes, stereotypes which were offensive towards Google’s female staff and clients. However, many people are furious with Google’s decision, saying that it proves free speech is no longer allowed in the American workplace.”

Wilson further says, “Damore did not send this memo to his friends or family, or even post it on his own social media. He used company property to send this memo to his coworkers. This gives Google the grounds to fire him, as he is expressing controversial beliefs on company time and distracting his coworkers with his opinions.”

Whether or not you agree with Damore’s opinions, the fact remains employers have the right to prevent and punish speech which is political and divisive in nature. “Whether it’s an email saying nasty things about President Trump or an email complaining about diversity hiring, employees need to be cognizant of the fact that free speech does not mean freedom from consequences. If your employer finds your opinions to be distracting and offensive to other employees, they are within their rights to reprimand you for this.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at

What Employers Need to Know About the Evolution of Marijuana Laws

How to make necessary changes to your employee handbooks and company policies

The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017A new congressional bill named “The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017” was just presented today by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. If passed, it would lift the federal prohibition on the substance. 26 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. This number is only expected to grow as more patients turn to this treatment and as marijuana is being approved as treatment for more conditions, such as PTSD.  But, if The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 is passed, how should employers tackle this issue in the workplace?

Rob Wilson, human resources and employment expert and President of Employco USA, says, “The federal government still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 substance, which is the same class as heroin and ecstasy,” he says. “However, many states now permit the use of marijuana, either medically or recreationally. This leads to very murky waters for employers, especially as some states prohibit the discrimination of employees with a medical marijuana card, while other states do not.”

So what should an employer do to navigate this issue?

First, Wilson advises employers to get familiar with their state’s specific legislation. He also says, “If your employees are part of a collective bargaining unit, then it is likely that drug stipulations already exist, including specific limits for drug use. For example, in a recent case, an employee was found to be under the influence while on the job, but he claimed his medical marijuana card gave him permission to use while working. However, a drug test revealed that he was 10 times above his prescribed limit.”

For this reason, Wilson stresses that employers should not just rely on the results of a rapid drug test, as these results do not hold well in a court of law. “If you live in a state such as Illinois that does not permit the discrimination of employees who use medical marijuana, then you should definitely send the drug test results out to a lab in order to back up any fears that an employee might be using more than he should. However, if you live in a pass/fail state, this won’t be necessary.” Continue reading