Google has reportedly fired a number of employees that took part in protests relating to the company’s business dealings with U.S. Customers and Border Protection.
The Guardian reports that tech giant Google suspended a number of employees and fired at least one following a rally last Friday against the firm’s work with U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) which was attended by as many as 200 employees. Following the protest, one worker was fired and it is reported that three others may have been terminated from the company.
One software engineer at the firm, Rebecca Rivers, had been involved previously in protests relating to Google’s dealings with CBP and announced her firing from Google via Twitter on Monday afternoon. An internal company memo obtained by Bloomberg also alleged that three other staffers had been fired.
I was just informed by @Google that I am being terminated.
— Rebecca Rivers (@Tri_Becca90) November 25, 2019
One alleged Google employee wrote on Twitter that the firm was firing employees in attempts to stamp out internal dissension.
Harassers get millions of dollars but queer activists are getting fired. Organizers are getting fired. This is a clear signal.
— Timnit Gebru (@timnitGebru) November 25, 2019
A memo from Google’s Security and Investigations Team alleges that the employees were fired due to security reasons. The full memo can be read below:
We’ve seen a recent increase in information being shared outside the company, including the names and details of our employees. Our teams are committed to investigating these issues, and today we’ve dismissed four employees for clear and repeated violations of our data security policies.
There’s been some misinformation circulating about this investigation, both internally and externally. We want to be clear that none of these individuals were fired for simply looking at documents or calendars during the ordinary course of their work.
To the contrary, our thorough investigation found the individuals were involved in systematic searches for other employees’ materials and work. This includes searching for, accessing, and distributing business information outside the scope of their jobs — repeating this conduct even after they were met with and reminded about our data security policies. This information, along with details of internal emails and inaccurate descriptions about Googlers’ work, was subsequently shared externally.
In one case, among other information they accessed and copied, an individual subscribed to the calendars of a wide range of employees outside of their work group. The individual set up notifications so that they received emails detailing the work and whereabouts of those employees, including personal matters such as 1:1s, medical appointments and family activities — all without those employees’ knowledge or consent. When the affected Googlers discovered this, many reported that they felt scared or unsafe, and requested to work from another location. Screenshots of some of their calendars, including their names and details, subsequently made their way outside the company.
We have always taken information security very seriously, and will not tolerate efforts to intimidate Googlers or undermine their work, nor actions that lead to the leak of sensitive business or customer information. This is not how Google’s open culture works or was ever intended to work. We expect every member of our community to abide by our data security policies.
Fortunately, these types of activities are rare. Thank you to everyone who does the right thing every day — doing amazing work, while inspiring and maintaining the trust of our users, partners, and each other.
One alleged YouTube employee, Stephanie Parker, called the firing of the employees “inhuman” and “illegal” but stated that she was “still fighting, and not afraid.”
The firing of my co-workers is inhumane (right before Thanksgiving) and *illegal*. I'm still here, still fighting, and not afraid. https://t.co/eMB15Ms8Jg
— Stephanie Parker (@sparker2) November 25, 2019
In a defiant Medium post this week, a group of worker-organizers stated that they were dismayed by the company’s behavior, writing: “With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation against workers engaging in protected organizing. This is classic union-busting dressed up in tech industry jargon, and we won’t stand for it.”