Google is facing a lawsuit from a former member of staff over claims that it runs a program to encourage staff to inform on each other.
The claims are part of a lawsuit that alleges that the company's staff policies violate labour laws in its home state of California.
The company is accused of, effectively, running a program of internal informants, whereby staff are encouraged to inform on other staff suspected of talking to the press. Staff are also barred from talking to anyone else about illegal activities that they suspect may be taking place - even to the company's own lawyers.
The claims are made in a lawsuit brought by an unnamed Google product manager and unearthed by US website The Information. If the claims are proved, the company could be facing fines of as much as $3.8bn, with staff compensated for the violations.
"The lawsuit alleges that Google warns employees to not put into writing concerns about potential illegal activity within Google, even to the company's own attorneys, because the disclosures could fall into the hands of regulators and law enforcement," claimed The Information, which has received a copy of the lawsuit.
Staff are also barred from writing "a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley" without the company signing off on the final draft.
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of claims over how the company is run internally, suggesting that the company doesn't quite live up to its "don't be evil" motto. A complaint to the US National Labor Relations Board in June raised similar issues, notes The Information.
The company's employee policies break California law on a number of points, according to the lawsuit, including the right to discuss workplace conditions and to notify authorities both internally and externally over possible violations of the law.
The lawsuit suggests that it has been brought anonymously because Brian Katz, Google's director of global investigations, intelligence and protective services "falsely informed approximately 65,000 Googlers that Plaintiff was terminated for "leaking" certain information to the press".
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