Friday 18 October 2019

Google staff to protest alleged retaliation


Google said it banned workplace retaliation. Stock photo: Reuters
Google said it banned workplace retaliation. Stock photo: Reuters

Mark Bergen

EMPLOYEES at Google are planning to stage widespread protests over company management, escalating a tense standoff that has lasted for months. The staff are arguing that workers at the Alphabet unit have faced retaliation from higher-ups after publicly criticising the company.

The action follows a seismic event in November when thousands of Google employees - including workers in Dublin - walked out of their offices in co-ordination.

They were responding to reports the company had paid bonuses to several executives after they were accused of sexual harassment. Google later rolled out several new policies, including one barring mandatory arbitration of workplace complaints. Turmoil persisted.

Earlier this month, two organisers of the walkout, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, told colleagues they were demoted and pushed aside because of their actions. Google denied the charges. But employees met last Friday to share more similar stories, then posted some anonymous accounts to the website Medium. They also planned the next protest. A Twitter account for the Google Walkout organisers posted the plans yesterday. "We're sick of retaliation," it read. "Six months ago, we walked out. This time, we're sitting in." Organisers passed out a similar flier on Google campuses on Tuesday, according to one viewed by Bloomberg News. At least 15 offices are scheduled to participate in the event, according to three people familiar with the employees' plans. They asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. Workers in Dublin were not said to be taking part in this protest.

Google said it bans "retaliation in the workplace" but wouldn't comment on the sit-in plans.


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