Google confirms settlement on worker speech rights

Federal regulators ordered Alphabet Inc.'s Google unit this week to reassure employees that they may speak freely about workplace issues, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The mandate from the National Labor Relations Board is part of a settlement of formal claims that the tech giant punishes employees for raising concerns about equality and freedom of speech on the job. Current and former workers across the political spectrum have made complaints according to the Journal, which cited people it didn't identify.

Under the settlement, Google "agreed to post a notice to our employees reminding them of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act," the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said in a statement, adding that company policies "do not prevent employees from discussing workplace issues."

In addition, Google stated, "posting a notice to remind employees of their rights is the NLRB’s long-established and common practice for settling claims".

The decision snarls the thicket of regulatory issues with which Google is already grappling. This week, 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas, announced an investigation into Google’s “potential monopolistic behavior," while a separate group is investigating Facebook’s market dominance. Tech companies more broadly are facing sweeping federal and congressional investigations as well as enforcement action by European regulators.

According to the Journal, the settlement was approved by an agency director and is slated to take effect after an appeals period.

Just last year, thousands of Google employees around the world briefly walked off the job to protest what they said was the tech giant’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.