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Google Employees Want Changes to Harassment Policy

A group of Google employees published an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai asking for changes to the company’s sexual harassment policy. The letter comes just days after former employee, Emi Nietfeld, published an opinion piece on her experience with harassment at the company.

In her New York Times piece, former Google engineer Nietfeld speaks about a technical lead who made her uncomfortable by repeatedly commenting upon her appearance, asking her to set him up with her friends and telling her he wanted someone who looked like her. She only spoke up when it looked like he would become her manager. At least four other women also asserted he made them uncomfortable. Two women purportedly would not work with him. During Google’s three-month investigation into her harassment complaint, Nietfeld continued to work right next to him. When she protested, the investigator recommended therapy for her or to go on leave. Even after the investigation confirmed her claims, the harasser continued to sit right next to her. Her manager told her that the harasser did face consequences, but she did not see any changes.

In the employees’ open letter, they protest what they see as Google’s protection of the harasser instead of the person harmed by the harassment. The employees seek changes that would preclude harassers from managing or leading teams, directly or indirectly. They also demand that when Google verifies the harassment, the harasser must be required to change teams so that no one has to work with their harasser. They note that stricter protocols are in place for individuals dating in the workplace. The letter is signed by 2067 Alphabet workers (Google’s parent company). Google responded in a statement acknowledging the importance of these issues, stating that it works to protect employees who report concerns, investigates the reports and takes action against “substantiated allegations.”