Google Fires Another 20 Workers Over Protest

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Last week Google fired 28 employees who had participated in a sit-in aimed at getting the company to end cooperation with Israel.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.

Years before the dismissals, tensions had been simmering between the company’s management and some activist employees over Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion Google and Amazon deal to supply the Israeli government with cloud services, such as artificial intelligence...


That seemed to be the end of it until yesterday when another group of 20 employees got the axe.

Google has fired an additional 20 employees who participated in a protest last week against the company’s defense contract with the Israeli government.

This brings the total number of employees laid off due to the protest to 50, according to the group that organized the demonstrations, No Tech for Apartheid.

Jane Chung, a spokesperson for the group, said some of the dismissed employees were “nonparticipating bystanders” during the sit-in protests held on April 16 at Google’s offices in Sunnyvale and New York. The group labeled the tech giant’s action as an “aggressive and desperate act of retaliation.”

But Google disputes the claim that some of the fired employees were bystanders. It carried out its own investigation and said everyone who was fired was participating in the protest.

Google had conducted an investigation into the “physical disruption inside our buildings on April 16,” the spokesperson said. “Our investigation into these events is now concluded, and we have terminated the employment of additional employees who were found to have been directly involved in disruptive activity,” the Google spokesperson added.

“To reiterate, every single one of those whose employment was terminated was personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings. We carefully confirmed and reconfirmed this,” the Google spokesperson said.

This is just another example of the kind of internal disruption I wrote about earlier at NPR. Every liberal organization has been plagued with these kind of disruptions. The difference here is that, unlike NPR, Google isn't tolerating it. Google's head of search recently warned that the competitive environment had changed and Google employees needed to step up.


“I think we can agree that things are not like they were 15-20 years ago, things have changed,” Raghavan said, according to audio of the event obtained by CNBC. He was referring to the search industry, which Google has dominated for two decades, emerging as one of the most profitable and valuable companies on the planet along the way...

“We’ve had a lot go on in these last three months,” consisting of “really high highs and low lows,” he said.

In that time, Google introduced its AI image generator. After users discovered inaccuracies that went viral online, the company pulled the feature in February...

Organic growth is slowing and the number of new devices coming into the world “is not what it used to be,” Raghavan said.

Last January, Google's parent company announced it would be laying off about 12,000 people. So the message is that things are tougher than they were a decade or two ago and that's why the company can't afford to play games with employees who want to hold political sit-ins on company grounds.

"But ultimately we are a workplace and our policies and expectations are clear: this is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics. This is too important a moment as a company for us to be distracted," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote on Thursday...

"Business leaders are sending a warning to staff: Dissent that disrupts the workplace won’t be tolerated," according to a report from the Wall Street Journal Sunday. "Bosses are losing patience with staff eager to be the conscience of their companies, especially as employees pressure them on charged issues such as politics and the war in Gaza, executives, board members and C-suite advisers say."


The protest group No Tech for Apartheid has vowed to keep making demands and holding protests. Hopefully, Google will keep firing them. Eventually, they'll be able to get rid of most of the partisan troublemakers and the ones who remain will know that distractions from work are an express ticket to unemployment.

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