Google has had a challenging year. The company is already beleaguered by external scrutiny and criticism from politicians and the public over how it moderates content on its platforms. It’s facing an antitrust probe. And at the same time, it’s struggling internally to deal with rising tensions with both its liberal and conservative employees.
On Thursday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a former Google engineer, Kevin Cernekee, accused Google of firing him for expressing his conservative political beliefs at work and claimed the company fosters a culture of politically biased bullying. While Google said it fired him for misusing company equipment, Cernekee’s claims have provided new fodder for conservative commentators and Republican legislators who have long made unsupported accusations that Google and other tech giants are liberal havens that discriminate against conservative ideology.
Cernekee’s accusations have also reignited a debate among Google’s workforce over freedom of speech that began in 2017, when the company fired former engineer James Damore for publishing a memo arguing that women were less biologically suited than men to work in tech. Some of its liberal employees who were involved in organizing walkout protests last year accuse the company of retaliating against them for publicly demanding more ethical policies at work. Others are in line with Cernekee and are legally challenging the company over claims that it suppresses their speech and displays a bias against conservative workers. […]