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Google worker fired over protest says he wasn’t even protesting

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the case of a former Google software engineer who was fired for allegedly participating in internal protests at the company's offices against an Israeli defense contract. The article explores the broader context of Google's crackdown on employee dissent and the company's response to worker activism.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Firing of Google Employee

1. What was the reason given for the former Google employee's termination? The former employee says he was fired for merely watching a protest against Google's $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. He claims he was not actively involved in the protest.

2. How did Google justify the firings of employees related to the protests? Google stated that it would take action against "disruptive behavior" that violates company policies, up to and including termination. The company investigated the "physical disruption inside our buildings" and claimed that all the fired workers were "personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity."

3. What is the former employee's perspective on Google's response to the protests? The former employee says this represents a "total change" in how Google responds to employee activism, compared to the company's past handling of dissent. He believes Google is "cracking down on workers having a voice" and that the firings were an act of retaliation.

[02] Broader Context of Employee Activism at Google

1. What are some examples of past employee activism at Google? In 2018, over 600 Google employees signed an open letter opposing Project Dragonfly, an effort to build a search engine for China. That same year, over 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout in protest of the company's handling of sexual harassment allegations against executives.

2. How does the former employee characterize the change in Google's response to employee dissent? The former employee says "It's night and day from the Google of even five, 10 years ago." He believes Google has shifted to a much more aggressive stance in cracking down on worker activism and dissent.

3. What actions have the fired employees taken in response to their terminations? More than 50 workers fired by Google in connection with the protests have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging unlawful retaliation and seeking to have their jobs reinstated.

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