Google is under fire again for its treatment of employees. Tomorrow, a group of Google employees is holding a rally and press conference to speak out against the company’s decision to place two employees on indefinite administrative leave.
Earlier this month, Google fired one employee and put two, Laurence Berland and Rebecca Rivers, on leave for allegedly violating company policies. At the time, Google said one had searched for and shared confidential documents that were not pertinent to their job, and one had looked at the individual calendars of some staffers. Both Berland and Rivers are set to speak tomorrow at the rally.
“The company is claiming that it is for looking up calendars and documents, which is something we all do, but we know that it is punishment for speaking up for themselves and others,” workers organizing at Google said in a press release. “We are demanding that Google bring these workers back to work immediately.”
They went on to say that the “attack” on Rivers and Berland “is an attack on all people who care about transparency and accountability for tech.” Organizers pointed to how Rivers helped create the petition to demand Google end its contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and how Berland has participated in a number of worker-organized campaigns, including the one resisting YouTube’s role in facilitating hate speech.
“It’s a brute force intimidation attempt to silence workers and make it harder for us to fight back on issues of systemic racism, sexual harassment, harmful technologies, hate speech on our platforms, and business relationships with organizations that engage in human rights abuses,” organizers said.
Since the massive employee-led walkout last November, organizers say Google has tried to undermine further attempts to organize. In July, walkout co-organizer Meredith Whittaker left the company following reports of retaliation in April. Organizers of tomorrow’s rally also say Google has implemented new policies, like accessing need-to-know data a fireable offense. Organizers of the rally say both Rivers and Berland were put on leave for “simply looking at openly shared internal information.”
The rally will start at 11 a.m. at Google’s San Francisco office at 345 Spear Street. I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.