Google kicked up a firestorm when it tracked down and fired the anonymous author of an internal memo that critiqued that company’s diversity programs. James Damore, a software engineer and holder of a Ph.D. in system biology, was identified as the author. The memo and the subsequent termination of Damore highlighted the disparity between male and female employees in the technology industry and whether a culture of political correctness has taken hold of Silicon Valley companies. Damore has promised that he is going to pursue legal action.

What did the memo state?

According to Gizmodo, Damore’s memo said that "women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women." The document did not oppose efforts to foster more diversity in the work place, but rather it should take account of such differences. Damore also decried the corporate culture at Google that causes conservative employees to remain silent about their opinions. He called for more viewpoint diversity than that based on gender or race.

What was the objection to the memo?

Google management, as well as a great deal of outside opinion, takes the view that the views expressed in the memo constitute sexist bias and as it was distributed on the company’s Intranet, the imposition of a hostile work environment.

Damore, in the view of Google, had to be fired because he attacked the company’s efforts to attract more women and minorities into the tech industry. His views on innate biological differences between men and women were considered “incorrect.” According to Bloomberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated in a memo, that the Damore memo, “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

What about freedom of speech?

Marc Randazza, a first amendment attorney, suggested that Google did not violate Damore’s constitutional rights as the government was not involved.

However, Google erred in purging the engineer because it fosters intolerance, no different than the blacklisting of people in the entertainment industry for communist sympathies. It gives the impression that Google does not value viewpoints opposed to left-wing orthodoxy and will rush to crush such with the ruthlessness of Soviet-era apparatchiks.

What does the law have to say about Damore’s termination?

CNBC suggests that Google may be in breach of California and federal employment law by terminating Damore. Federal law forbids companies from Firing or even disciplining employees who communicate with other employees about improving workplace conditions. California law prohibits firing employees to force them to adhere to a particular political point of view. Finally, the law forbids firing employees for objecting to hiring practices that he or she believes are discriminatory. Law professor and purveyor of Instapundit Glenn Reynolds looks forward to the law suit and the subsequent discovery.