May 18, 2024

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Google fires 28 employees who participated in a sit-in to protest a $1.2 billion contract with Israel.

Google fires 28 employees who participated in a sit-in to protest a $1.2 billion contract with Israel.

Google has laid off 28 employees for participating in a 10-hour sit-in at the search giant's offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, to protest the company's $1.2 billion cloud contract with Israel, The Washington Post has learned.

The disruptive female employees — who wore a traditional Arab hijab while storming and occupying the office of a top executive in California on Tuesday — were fired late Wednesday after an internal investigation, Chris Racco, Google's vice president of global security, said in a company-wide memo.

“They took over office space, defaced our property, and physically obstructed the work of other Google employees,” Racco wrote in the memo obtained by The Post. “Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened.”

“Following the investigation, today we terminated the employment of twenty-eight employees found to be involved. We will continue the investigation and take action as needed,” Raco said in the memo.

“Such behavior has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it. It clearly violates numerous policies that all employees must adhere to – including our Code of Conduct, our Policy on Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation, and our Standards of Conduct and Concerns in the Workplace.”

Rakow added that the company “takes this matter seriously, and we will continue to enforce our long-standing policies to take action against disruptive behavior — including termination.”

A large group of Google employees hold signs protesting their company's participation in Project Nimbus. X/@NoTechAparttheid

It was not immediately possible to know whether all nine arrested employees were among those who were dismissed. Google had previously placed employees on administrative leave and cut off their access to internal systems.

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The pro-Palestinian employees belong to a group called “No Technology for Apartheid,” which has criticized Google's response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

Affected workers criticized Google for the layoffs in a statement shared by No Tech For Apartheid spokesperson Jane Chung.

“This evening, Google randomly fired 28 workers, including those who did not directly participate in the historic 10-hour sit-in protests yesterday,” the workers said in the statement.

The unruly employees were terminated late Wednesday. twitch/notech4apartheid

“This blatant act of retaliation is a clear signal that Google values ​​its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its employees — the ones who create real value for its executives and shareholders.”

“Sundar Pichai and Thomas Kurian are beneficiaries of the genocide,” the statement added, referring to Google's CEO and CEO of its cloud unit, respectively.

“We cannot understand how these men can sleep at night when their techniques have enabled 100,000 Palestinians to be killed, reported missing or injured in the last six months of Israeli genocide – and counting.”

The group posted several videos and livestreams of the protests on its X account — including the exact moment employees were issued final warnings and arrested by local police for trespassing.

Some of them wore traditional Arab hijabs as they stormed and occupied the office of a top California executive. twitch/notech4apartheid

When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson confirmed the dismissals.

“These protests were part of a long-term campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely do not work at Google,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“A small number of protesters entered employees and disrupted a few of our locations. Physically obstructing other employees and denying them access to our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and completely unacceptable behavior.

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“We have now completed individual investigations that led to the termination of employment of 28 employees, and we will continue to investigate and take action as needed,” the spokesperson added.

When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson confirmed the dismissals. X/@NoTechAparttheid

Earlier, an NYPD spokesperson said that Tuesday's protest “involved about 50 participants,” and confirmed that “four were arrested for trespassing inside the Google building.”

Separately, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said the protest in California “consisted of approximately 80 participants.”

A company spokesperson added that five employees who refused to leave the Google office “were arrested without incident on charges of criminal trespassing,” were booked and released.

The protesters demanded that Google withdraw from the $1.2 billion “Project Nimbus” contract – under which Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services provide cloud computing and artificial intelligence services to the Israeli government and military.

“These protests were part of a long-term campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely do not work at Google,” the spokesperson said in a statement. X/@NoTechAparttheid

The company's critics have raised fears that this technology will be used as a weapon against Palestinians in Gaza.

Protesters stormed the personal office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale.

Kurian's custom-made, framed Golden State Warriors jersey was visible on the office wall in the background of the live broadcast, and employees wrote a list of their demands on a whiteboard.

The pro-Palestinian employees, who belong to a group called No Tech For Apartheid, posted numerous videos and live streams of the protests — including the moment they were issued final warnings and arrested by local police for trespassing.

The company's critics have raised fears that this technology will be used as a weapon against Palestinians in Gaza. X/@NoTechAparttheid

The company-wide memo can be read in full below.

google employees,

You may have seen reports of protests at some of our offices yesterday. Unfortunately, a number of employees brought the event to our New York and Sunnyvale buildings. They took over office space, defaced our property, and physically disrupted the work of other Google employees. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disturbing, and made co-workers feel threatened. We have placed the employees involved under investigation and cut off their access to our systems. Those who refused to leave were arrested by law enforcement and removed from our offices.

Following an investigation, today we have terminated the employment of twenty-eight employees found to be involved. We will continue to investigate and take necessary action.

Such behavior has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it. It clearly violates numerous policies to which all employees must adhere – including the Code of Conduct, the Policy on Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation, and the Standards of Conduct and Concerns in the Workplace.

We are a workplace and every Googler is expected to read our policies and apply them to how they conduct and communicate in our workplace. The vast majority of our employees do the right thing. If you're one of the few who tend to think we'll ignore behavior that violates our policies, think again. The company takes this matter seriously, and we will continue to enforce our long-standing policies to take action against disruptive behavior – including termination.

You should expect to hear more from leaders about standards of behavior and discourse in the workplace.

Chris