Google fires 4 employees just days after staff-organized protest

Google says the terminations were for violations of data security policies.

November 26, 2019, 1:42 PM

The firing of four Google employees just days after a staff-organized protest has led to allegations of retaliation against organizing workers at the tech giant.

Google said the decision to terminate the employees was due to "repeated violations of our data security policies" in a memo to staff titled "Securing our data," that was obtained by Bloomberg News. Google confirmed to ABC News the contents of the note published by Bloomberg but declined to comment further.

PHOTO: People walk past a Google office building on 9th Avenue in Chelsea district in New York, Dec. 30, 2017.
People walk past a Google office building on 9th Avenue in Chelsea district in New York, Dec. 30, 2017.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images, FILE

"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," the Google memo stated. "To the contrary, our thorough investigation found the individuals were involved in systematic searches for other employees’ materials and work."

"This information, along with details of internal emails and inaccurate descriptions about Googlers’ work, was subsequently shared externally," the note added.

The memo on Monday comes just days after Google staff and supporters protested outside of the San Francisco office on Nov. 22 after two workers were placed on leave.

Google Walkout for Real Change, a group representing employees organizing at the company, accused Google of firing the employees "in an attempt to crush worker organizing."

"Four of our colleagues took a stand and organized for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: '​​​​​​And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right -- speak up,'" the group said in a statement. "When they did, Google retaliated against them. Today, after putting two of them on sudden and unexplained leave, the company fired all four in an attempt to crush worker organizing."

"With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation against workers engaging in protected organizing," the statement added. "This is classic union busting dressed up in tech industry jargon, and we won’t stand for it."

The Tech Workers Coalition, a trade group of tech workers, tweeted their support for the fired workers at Google, calling on others to offer them jobs and those remaining at Google to "speak out."

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