Report: Google Fires Engineer for Engaging in Workers Rights Activism

Google LGBT pride bus
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A former Google engineer alleges she was fired after engaging in labor-related activity, including creating an online pop-up window to alert employees of their rights.

Google has denied the allegations, saying that the employee misused workplace tools to engage in activity that wasn’t authorized by superiors.

The dispute represents the latest labor-related battle within Google. The search engine fired four employees in November for violations of its data-security policies, though the individual stated in a complaint that the real reasons were retaliation for the works’ labor organizing activity.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has begun an official investigation into Google concerning the four employees.

Google’s latest labor dispute comes from Kathryn Spiers, who claims she worked at Google for a little less than two years in the company’s platform security team, focusing on Chrome’s use within Google.

“Part of my job was to write browser notifications so that my coworkers can be automatically notified of employee guidelines and company policies while they surf the web,” she wrote in a Medium post published Tuesday.

Spiers said she created a browser pop-up that appears whenever a coworker visited a union-busters’ website or the community guidelines policy. The notification said: “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”

While such activity is legally protected under labor laws, Spiers alleges that Google punished her.

“Google’s response to this was to suspend me immediately and without warning,” she wrote. “They also dragged me into three separate interrogations with very little warning each time… The interrogations were extremely aggressive and illegal.”

Spiers said she was terminated on December 13 “for violating Google’s security policies.”

Google executive Royal Hansen said Spiers’ firing was justified.

“She misused a security and privacy tool to create a pop-up that was neither about security nor privacy,” Hansen wrote in an email the company sent to multiple media outlets.

“She did that without authorization from her team or the Security and Privacy Policy Notifier team, and without a business justification. And she used an emergency rapid push to do it.”

Spiers claims Google’s decision to fire her was illegal.

“Google has overreacted in an egregious, illegal, and discriminatory manner,” she wrote in her Medium post.

“For a company that holds personal information about billions of people’s lives, the company is afraid of its workers even knowing their own legal rights to organize to hold the company accountable. I encourage everyone in tech to stop giving management the benefit of the doubt, to join unions, and continue to organize to protect our users, our communities, and ourselves.”

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