Google on Monday, sent an email to all its staff members describing its decision to fire four employees over alleged data-security issues.
The tensions between Google and its workers continue to escalate. The email was titled “Securing our data” and was first captured on Bloomberg. The company confirmed the content of the memo but declined to make any further comment.
This comes after protests by Google staff members over issues including the company’s work with the military, the manner in which it handled the sexual harassment cases and the censored search service in China.
Supporters of the dismissed staff members said that the activities led to their dismissals. According to a statement from staff members at Google who are organising at the company, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation against workers who dared to question how they choose to handle their situations. “This is classic union busting dressed up in tech industry jargon and we won’t stand for it,” the organisers said.
On Friday, over 200 people protested outside Google’s San Francisco office organised by the staff members. The aggrieved protesters demanded that Google recall two employees who had been forcefully terminated, Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland.
Rivers on Monday had tweeted that she had been relieved of her job. Apparently, she had protested against US Customs and Border Protection, which is testing Google Cloud product. Berland was an active protester against YouTube for the way it handles hate speech policies. Both ex staff members had said last week that they didn’t trust the company’s judgement and explanation for punishing them.
According to the Federal labour law, retaliation against employees for collective action is restricted. Jeffery Hirsch, a University of North Carolina law professor and former National Labour Relations Board attorney noted that if employees at Google have been engaged in the conduct the company cites in its memo and were fired as a result, “Google will likely have to reinstate the employees and pay them back pay.”
The memo described some of the actions taken by the dismissed staff members. They included assessing other employees’ calendars and sharing information about their whereabouts with outsiders.
“In one case, among other information, they accessed and copied an individual subscribed to the calendars of a wide range of employees outside of their work group. The individual set up notifications so that they received emails detailing the work and whereabout of those employees, including personal matters such as 1:1s, medical appointments and family activities- all without those employees’ knowledge or consent.”
The company refused to comment beyond confirming the content of the mail.