News, Culture & Society

Google employees stage sit-in at offices to protest ‘retaliation against walkout organizers’

Hundreds of Google employees staged a sit-in at company offices in the United States and abroad to protest what they say is management’s policy of retaliating against those who report sexual harassment.

The sit-in protest was coordinated to take place at Google campuses beginning at 11am Eastern time in the U.S.

Google has denied that its company policy is to retaliate against employees who submit complaints.

The event was organized by the planners of last November’s mass walkout of Google employees worldwide, Motherboard reported.

Google employees are seen on the company’s main campus in Mountain View, California on Wednesday

The image above shows Google employees during a sit-in inside the cafeteria in Mountain View

The image above shows Google employees during a sit-in inside the cafeteria in Mountain View

Meredith Whittaker

Claire Stapleton

Last week, two Google employees who helped organize a November 1 walkout protest  – Meredith Whittaker (left) and Claire Stapleton (right) – alleged that management retaliated against them

The walkout which took place on November 1 was a protest of a massive payout that Google made to a senior developer within the company who was accused of sexual misconduct.

Andy Rubin, who co-founded Android, Google’s mobile operating system that is used on smartphones and other devices, left the company last fall.

A New York Times report stated that company CEO Larry Page personally asked for Rubin’s resignation after a Google investigation found that a female employee within the company credibly accused him of sexual harassment.

Rubin, who was married at the time, is alleged to have coerced the woman into oral sex during an encounter in a hotel room in 2013.

Rubin denied wrongdoing.

To expedite his exit from the company, Google agreed to pay Rubin a severance package totaling $90million, according to the Times.

Tens of thousands of Google employees worldwide walked off the job on November 1 to protest management's handling of sexual harassment complaints. The image above from November 1 shows Googlers walking out of the offices in New York City

Tens of thousands of Google employees worldwide walked off the job on November 1 to protest management’s handling of sexual harassment complaints. The image above from November 1 shows Googlers walking out of the offices in New York City

News of the payout was met with outrage by employees, who planned the walkout in protest.

Some 20,000 Googlers got up en masse and walked out of their jobs to protest on November 1. 

Now there are claims that Google is unjustly retaliating against employees who come forward with allegations of sexual harassment or other forms of mistreatment.

Four anonymous employees wrote a Medium blog post alleging that they were subject to retaliation after complaining about ethics violations at the company.

One employee said the company threatened their immigration status if they pursued a complaint against another employee for ‘something unethical.’

Another employee said they complained to human resources after their manager said a female employee was ‘probably trying to get pregnant again and is super emotional and hard to work with.’

When HR ‘shared my concerns directly with my manager,’ the manager ‘immediately started retaliating’ by ‘interviewing people to replace me.’

Google CEO Larry Page

Former Google developer Andy Rubin

Last fall, Google employees were outraged after learning that management paid $90million to a senior developer, Andy Rubin (right), after he resigned due to what the company said were credible allegations of sexual misconduct. Google CEO Larry Page is seen left

One woman alleges she reported her manager for sexual harassment, only to have the company recommend ‘coaching’ for both the accuser and the alleged harasser.

Last week, two Google employees who helped organize the November 1 walkout alleged that management retaliated against them.

Meredith Whittaker, who heads Google’s Open Research, claims that her role would be ‘changed dramatically’ if she wanted to remain at the company.

Whittaker was informed of the planned changes after Google disbanded an ethics council it had formed regarding the marketing of its artificial intelligence technology, according to Wired.

She was reportedly told by management that she needed to abandon her work on ethics-related matters which she has pursued since co-founding the AI Now Institute, a research center at New York University.

Claire Stapleton, who also helped organize the November walkout, said that two months after the protest, she was told by management that she would be demoted from her marketing manager position at YouTube, which is owned by Google.

Stapleton says that when she approached human resources to take up the matter, she was subject to further retaliation.

‘My manager started ignoring me, my work was given to other people, and I was told to go on medical leave, even though I’m not sick,’ Stapleton wrote in an email to Wired.

Stapleton says the company backed down and restored her position after she hired a lawyer.

‘While my work has been restored, the environment remains hostile and I consider quitting nearly every day,’ she wrote.

A spokesperson for Google said in response: ‘We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and investigate all allegations.

‘Employees and teams are regularly and commonly given new assignments, or reorganized, to keep pace with evolving business needs.

‘There has been no retaliation here.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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