Google Fires Four Employees At Center Of Worker Organization Efforts

from ars technica

Tensions between Google parent company Alphabet and its workers are again on the rise, as four employees at the forefront of an organization movement within Google have been fired.

The firings came Monday in the wake of an employee rally at Google’s San Francisco office that took place last Friday. The rally was in support of employees Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland, both of whom had been placed on administrative leave in the wake of their previous protests against the company.

Bloomberg obtained a memo sent to all Google employees on Monday about the firings, which described the dismissal as due to “clear and repeated violations” of the company’s data security policies.

More here.

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5 Responses to Google Fires Four Employees At Center Of Worker Organization Efforts

  1. Stephen Hoffman December 4, 2019 at 4:29 pm #

    This article is incredibly concerning for a number of reasons. First, it is concerning that Google would fire employees over a potential discussion of organization. Second, the executives in Google and Alphabet are some of the brightest people in the world. There is no way they did not know what they were doing was illegal. They have confidence that they would win out in the courts due to their size and power. One of the larger issues in this article is incredibly concerning towards the validity of our corporate laws in the United States. For the sake of discussion, allow us to assume that the NLRB and the ACLU and other groups wouldn’t intervene in this case, and the fired employees were left to their own devices (which would be the outcome if this case wasn’t making national headlines). The question of whether the fired employees would even bother to sue due to the amount of legal fees they would rack up fighting the monstrosity that is Google’s legal team indicates that the system is unfair to smaller entities. These employees were wronged, and their rights were violated. They should not have to simply live with the wrongdoing due to the costs of lawyers and the hoops required to jump through to fight Google and their attorneys. If people were wronged, they should have the opportunity to use the courts to receive a remedy for the violation they were incurred. This has always been a value of the American justice system, and leaders claim that it continues to be. However, there exists a nearly oligarchical system that gives an uncontrollable amount of power to these large corporations to express considerable power over its employees without a solution to fight back against them. This is a clear violation, and thankfully groups like the NLRB and the ACLU exist to help fight back against corporate greed. If they did not exist, retaining enough council to fight Google would costs tens of thousands (probably more) and take years. This is a critical flaw in our legal system.

  2. Anthony Freda December 5, 2019 at 5:21 pm #

    Reading this article leaves me shocked and merely just confused. One of the biggest most influential companies on the planet is acting towards their employees in a manor that is illegal and unethical. In the comment above me, Steven brings up excellent points regarding Google’s employees potential discussions of organization and regarding the knowledge of Google officials and Alphabet. It is extremely concerning if Google fired these employees due to talks of organization. The NLRB and ACLU in my opinion need to get involved with this situation because if these acts continue. If Google continues to fire people who question the company it will set a standard that large powerful companies can do whatever and treat their employees however they wish. Then to Stephens second point, Google and the parent company Alphabet know what they are doing. Some of the smartest people in the world work for this company and they know they are doing wrong. I think the only way Google can be stopped is if someone brave enough will step forward and lead a charge. Standing up to Google would be like David vs Goliath, it would take guts, sacrifice, and a whole lot of money to even make an effort to bring legal action towards them.

    Very similar to what we talked about in class, Google encourages their employees to share data amongst one another. A standard of what data can be shared or how much can be shared is not specified leaving a grey area. This gives Google the opportunity to fire someone who shared information or discussed something that the company does not like. I think loopholes like this should be discussed throughout our legal system. The loophole allows companies to basically do what they want and have no repercussions in doing so.

  3. Daniel J Cambronero December 6, 2019 at 3:17 pm #

    Time and time again from the fall of great civilizations to in this case the denial of basic job rights, history often finds itself repeating itself, today with Google being the name in question in the headlines as the title of this article states, “Google Fires Four Employees At Center Of Worker Organization Efforts.”

    It is important when not only reading stories from news sources but when hearing any story, to not believe the first thing one is told. Instead it is important to take it into consideration all sides of the story (as everyone’s version of the story will always make themselves look good) and try and build a timeline of events for yourself so an accurate conclusion of what happened can be reached. Using this method of reasoning and after taking all three sides into account (Google’s side, claiming that they fired the employees because of violating company policies), four employees who got fired’s side (who are under the impression they were fired for trying to form a labor union), and even form an outside perspective (the fellow employees who mentioned that Google actually promoted data sharing and looking into other company projects. Additionally they mentioned that these new policies Google mentions are murky and unclear and even weren’t aware the addition was made), I have come to the conclusion that Google indeed did fire these four employees in a retaliating nature in response to their union efforts. My main reason for this conclusion is that two out of the three of the sides confirm that the firing of these four employees for the reason of their firing is a bit questionable because of the data sharing all employees do as whole, it is a bit random to fire them over this new and unknown policy. Even Google to a certain extent acknowledged this being that they went scrambling to come up with a reason for the firing of these employees. One thing for sure is big changes are to come in technology business law as a result of the suit that will follow.

    However it is imperative to always remember, although today it was Google, another day it will be somebody else and in a couple years from now who knows who it will be.

  4. Javier Tovar December 6, 2019 at 6:02 pm #

    I remember watching a movie called the Internship. In this film two older men earn internships at Google where they are competing against many college student interns during the summer for permanent jobs at the company. It was a very good movie filled with comedy, competition and triumph. Most importantly, the movie portrayed an awe-inspiring image of google for me. I was like wow, working at google must be the greatest career anyone can choose. You got the feeling that working there was like getting paid to have fun at what was portrayed as a sort of fun zone or theme park. They had a blast as interns competing in many different tasks and ended receiving permanent positions at google after outcompeting the rest of the interns. Once again, I was like wow those are two lucky dudes who got the job at what seemed to be the best place to work at in the United States.
    Well, here we are in 2019 and google has recently fired four employees who were at the center of worker organization efforts. The firings occurred in late November and have only added to the already growing tension between the company and its employees. Google claims that they fired the employees for clear and repeated violations of Google’s data security policies. They also claimed that the information the employees had obtained was outside the scope of their particular jobs. Many workers, however, stated that the policy in question is vague and that the firings were retaliatory. Google also redrafted their policy to make it a fire able offense to even look at certain documents. It was also stated that doing so “was” a big part of Google’s culture. The company encouraged their employees to look at other company files, documents, and projects because it was seen as a benefit. In their new policy it is not even stated what files are off limits which of course is going to cause uproar within the employees. I used to think that Google was the perfect place to work, but there seems to be some trouble in paradise.

  5. Jessica Romero December 6, 2019 at 8:15 pm #

    It appears the larger the company the bigger the problems they have. In this case our beloved multinational tech company, Google is having issues with treating their employees properly. I am for one shocked to hear about this behavior because Google tends to paint this image that they are THE company to work for. Many advertisements would promote an easy going, laid back environment that portrays a respectful work atmosphere. Google and Alphabet knew exactly what they were doing and that it was unfair but also illegal. In the article it stated that “looking at documents outside of one’s own job scope is par for the course at Google.” In order words they basically get to make up their own rules and choose who they want to fire? I agree that this policy is bogus, in fact it is too vague, and the firings were unethical. Typically, there are violations and procedures that go about firing someone. An employer typically starts building a case and notes down all the wronging’s an employee does in order to follow through with termination. They should have enforced these rules to said employees so they can avoid getting fired, but this wasn’t the case. Google knows that these employees do not stand a chance in court if they were to fight this. If an employer doesn’t want an employee around, they find any way they can to fire them, legally or not. These employees’ rights were stripped away from them and these firings were unethical. If these data sharing is a huge issue then Google would’ve emphasis it’s importance, it’s not specified at all to the employees. Google was completely wrong in this case and I hope these employees find some type of justice.

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