Was Google right to fire their employee for the 10 page internal memo he sent? I do support at-will employment and think employers can fire anyone they want. But the reason I say they might not be right in firing him is based on the statemnet that Google's CEO sent after reading the memo.
"First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it."
That quote alone sets up a standard that the company accepts different points of views and wants employees to express themselves. How is the employee to know they have "crossed the line" especially since he felt he was offering advise to help. Here is something he said in the memo.
"I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem."
He said he wants to help solve the problem. Maybe his theories and ideas are wrong or maybe he is right. I'm not debating that, instead I'm asking is it okay for Google to fire him. If Google truly supports "the right of Googlers to express themselves" then they can't pick and choose what Googlers express. At the very least when they feel someone has crossed a line, then they to let that employee know and try to fix the situation.
I think Google should have sat down with the employee and talked about what issues they had with the memo. They could have asked him to issue a statement to apologize or if they couldn't come to an agreement then part ways. But if you are going to encourage employees to open free expression, then you have to be willing to at least work someone who expresses something you don't like.
If Google doesn't want free expression of ideas, like most companies just make that clear. Let employees know they are expected to tow the company line or they can find another job.