The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Google’s bid to overrule a California appellate court’s decision permitting workers to seek state penalties over confidentiality rules that were previously stricken under federal labor law.
The order denied certiorari to Google and staffing company Adecco USA’s appeal of the First Appellate District’s ruling that the National Labor Relations Act does not preempt three workers’ claims that the companies violated California laws by maintaining nondisclosure agreements and confidentiality rules.
In 2016, a worker filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, saying Google illegally prohibited workers from talking publicly about wages and working conditions. Google settled the claims and discontinued the confidentiality policies at issue in September 2019.
The companies argue that the state appeals court’s finding that the suit is permissible through a local exception to a prior case was “radical” because the majority said Google’s “informal” agreement with the NLRB was subject to additional review from the court for violations before approval of the agreement.
The companies also argued that the state appeals court’s ruling conflicts with the Supreme Court’s decision in Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations v. Gould Inc. In Gould, the Supreme Court struck a Wisconsin law that prevented the state from doing business with entities that violated labor laws, saying the state cannot enforce laws under the jurisdiction of the NLRA.
The First Appellate District “ignored” the precedent in Gould that NLRB remedies trump state penalties, the company said.