That James Damore’s controversial memo about gender and employment practices at Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) has been a lightning rod for strong words and actions all around is evident.
When the dust settles, legally, Damore may be the last man standing.
Employment lawyers told TheStreet on Thursday, Aug. 10, and Friday, Aug. 11, that the software engineer has a strong case supporting wrongful termination, and he may be entitled to a number of remedies, including reinstatement and damages.
“James Damore’s best claim is under Section 1102 [of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)] ” Louis Benowitz, a Beverly Hills employee rights attorney, told TheStreet on Friday. “He’s been discriminated against based on his viewpoint.”
Benowitz said Damore could seek lost wages and putative damages, attorney and court fees and claim emotional distress from the firing, which happened Aug. 7, through the California law and the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
For Google’s part, Damore’s memo placed it in a tough spot, because the company has a duty under state and federal laws to protect other employees from discrimination, Benowitz explained. Yet its legal options may be limited with regard to Damore, unless he defames the company.
As of Friday, Damore had not filed a complaint with FEHA, an agency representative told TheStreet by email. Damore did file a complaint with the NLRB on Aug. 7.
Under the NLRB, most employees in the private sector are covered. According to its website, a single employee may “engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer’s attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action.”
Benowitiz said Damore can claim he was “engaged in concerted activity with his coworkers. His main thing is he advocated for viewpoints and was calling for other people who think like him.”