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 ofan employee rallyat 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.
Bloombergobtained a memosent 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.
“We want to be clear that none of these individuals were fired for simply looking at documents or calendars during the ordinary course of their work,” the company said, adding that the four employees were “searching for , accessing, and distributing business information outside the scope of their jobs. “
Activists within Google, however, said that the policy in question is vague and that the firings were retaliatory. In apost on Medium, organizers said that, traditionally, looking at documents outside of one’s own job scope is par for the course at Google:
Google redrafted its policies, making it a fireable offense to evenlookat certain documents. And let’s be clear, looking at such documents is a big part of Google culture; the company describes it as a benefit in recruiting, and even encourages new hires to read docs from projects all across the company. Which documents were off limits after this policy change? The policy was unclear, even explicitly stating the documents didn’t have to be labeled to be off limits. No meaningful guidance has ever been offered on how employees could consistently comply with this policy. The policy change amounted to: access at your own risk and let executives figure out whether you should be punished after the fact.
“With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation against workers engaging in protected organizing,” the activists said. “This is classic union busting dressed up in tech industry jargon, and we won’t stand for it.”