(Bloomberg) -- Google warned employees about protesting against the internet giant at official company events during Pride celebrations, according to people familiar with the situation.
Some workers have been planning protests at the Pride parade this weekend in San Francisco to speak out against the company’s policies on harassment of LGBTQ people on YouTube.
The Google video service has been under fire for how it responded to homophobic and racist jokes made in clips by conservative comedian and commentator Steven Crowder. Some Google workers spoke out against YouTube on Twitter, and a small group organized protests last week during the annual shareholder meeting of parent company Alphabet Inc.
One of the next steps planned by these employees is to speak out about YouTube during Pride activities this weekend because they think the company hasn’t done enough to quash LGBTQ harassment on the video service, the people said. The parade in San Francisco requires people to be invited to a specific contingent to march, so that often means workers attend as part of groups organized by their employers.
Google warned workers not to protest against the company if they are marching with Google’s official contingent. Doing so would violate the company’s code of conduct, according to internal memos viewed by the people. The Verge reported the memos earlier. A Google spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The company’s actions may violate federal labor law protecting workplace activism, as well as a California law protecting employees’ political activities, according to University of California at Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk. "Maintaining the policy would chill speech that is protected by law," she said.
"Google has undermined their own reason for participating in the Pride parade by trying to prevent its gay workers from criticizing Google’s alleged failure to address homophobic hate speech," she added. "They have sort of shot themselves in the foot on this one."
--With assistance from Gerrit De Vynck.
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