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Google’s Interesting Termination Choices

Frequently in the headlines, Google has placed itself there once again by firing four employees very active in the protests against it. Some believe that these firings were a response to the organizing done by these workers and their encouragement for other Google workers to speak out.
All employees were informed about the terminations in a memorandum that asserted these workers were fired “for clear and repeated violations of [Google’s] data security policies.” The fired workers were part of a larger contingent upset at the way Google handles sexual harassment, how it treats its many contract employees as well as issues related to Google’s interaction with the U.S. and Chinese governments. In Google’s memo, the employees were accused of having searched, looked through, and distributed information “outside the scope of their jobs.” While Google could not point to a specific code of conduct violated by the employees when asked by reporters, the company claimed it was still investigating whether policies had been violated. Two of the terminated employees spoke at a November rally where they denied accessing documents they were not authorized to view. These two employees did claim they had been asked by the company about their participation in a petition against Google signing a contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The objection arose out of the current administration’s family separation policy.
Google’s former work culture of encouraging speaking out has slowly been changing. Recent scheduled company-wide meetings that would have allowed employees to speak to senior management have been canceled and consultants have been brought in to stop union efforts. Google previously had a reputation for a particularly modern workplace with transparent relations between all levels of workers and management.