Category: business

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Three Google workers sue over alleged violations of ‘don’t be evil’ motto

Google's classic "don't be evil" mantra may have been more of a philosophical statement than a practical guideline, but former staff members now want to hold the company accountable for it. NPR and The Verge say ex-engineers Paul Duke, Rebecca Rivers and Sophie Waldman have sued Google for allegedly violating the "don't be evil" segment of the company's code of conduct. They claim Google fired them for organizing worker opposition to controversial projects, like working with the Trump-era Customs and Border Protection. They were supposedly punished for pointing out evil like Google as instructed, in other words.

The one-time employees claimed Google rejected the famous phrase as it was both expensive and leading workers to organize. The internet firm supposedly decided it was better to fire people than admit its approach had changed and give up the "accompanying benefits" that came with its well-known motto.

There are concerns the lawsuit is too vague. What defines evil, exactly? However, plaintiff lawyer Laurie Burgess argued "don't be evil" was specific enough that it could be enforceable. The saying "must have meaning" if it was in the company code and thus binding, Burgess said.

We've asked Google for comment. It has previously accused all of the workers (plus Laurence Berland) of repeatedly violating data security policies by obtaining or sharing confidential data, but the workers and other critics have said this was just a cover for retaliatory action.

The lawsuit won't necessarily lead to stiff penalties. Google settled with Berland over his departure, for instance. There's a lot of pressure on Google to avoid a drawn-out legal battle when the National Labor Relations Board is still investigating the other firings. Still, this could be an important case — even if there is a settlement, it might open the door to other complaints about the company's ethical standards.

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Disney settles Scarlett Johansson lawsuit over ‘Black Widow’ streaming strategy

Disney and Scarlett Johansson are no longer on the outs. The parties have reached a settlement for the lawsuit Johansson filed over the hybrid release strategy used for Black Widow. If you'll recall, the actor sued Disney over the company's decision to release her movie in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time, accusing the entertainment giant of breach of contract. 

Johansson's camp argued that Black Widow was supposed to be released in theaters exclusively under her deal with Marvel. According to the lawsuit she filed, she could lose as much as $50 million due to the hybrid release, seeing as her compensation is tied directly with the movie's box office success and doesn't include a cut from what Disney would make from streaming. People have had to pay $30 for a Premier Access pass to watch the movie on Disney+, and the company said Black Widow earned $60 million from streaming during its opening weekend. 

Her lawsuit also said that her camp tried to contact Disney and Marvel to re-negotiate their deal, but they were allegedly unresponsive. Neither party disclosed the terms of their agreement, but both issued a statement mentioning future collaborations. Alan Bergman, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said he looks "forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney's Tower of Terror."

Meanwhile, entertainment workers are gearing up for a strike because studios like Disney are rapidly producing content after pandemic-related restrictions had lifted. The situation led to poor working conditions with long hours and no breaks for production crew. Entertainment unions are hoping to convince studios to make changes, including ending the lower pay scale for smaller streaming services. Under the current rules, streaming services with fewer than 20 million subscribers like Apple TV+ does can pay their workers lower wages.

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Social media bots may have fuelled the GameStop stock frenzy

The GameStop stock frenzy appears to largely have been the product of Reddit users and trading apps like Robinhood, but some of its contributors might not have been human. According to Reuters, cybersecurity firm PiiQ Media has determined that people...

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