Google said Thursday it has updated the way it investigates misconduct claims — changes the company pledged to make after employees called for action last year.
The company is simultaneously facing backlash from two employees who say they faced corporate retaliation after helping to organize the November walkout protests.
Google says it hasn’t retaliated against two of the walkout organizers; even the Google assistant knows that’s false. #NotOkGoogle.
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) April 26, 2019
Thursday’s changes are designed to make it simpler for employees to file complaints about sexual misconduct or other issues.
Google also issued guidelines to tell employees what to expect during an investigation and added a policy that allows workers to bring along a colleague for support during the reporting process.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai promised to make these changes last fall after thousands of Google employees at company offices around the world briefly walked out to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct investigations and payouts to executives facing misconduct allegations.
Google has already responded to some protester demands by ending mandatory arbitration and changing benefit rules for some temporary workers and contractors.
But organizers of the walkout say there is more to be done.
Two organizers sent an internal email to some Google employees this week saying they had been retaliated against by the company after helping to put together the protests.
One employee said she was told to end her outside research work about artificial intelligence ethics.
Another said she was effectively demoted before hiring a lawyer when her work was then restored.
I’m so grateful for your support. I remain staunchly committed to my work @AINowInstitute. Google’s retaliation isn’t about me, or @clairewaves. It’s about silencing dissent & making us afraid to speak honestly about tech & power. NOT OK. Now more than ever, it’s time to speak up
— Meredith Whittaker (@mer__edith) April 23, 2019
But she faces a “hostile” environment and considers quitting every day, she wrote in the email.
Google denied the retaliation claims, saying employees are regularly given new assignments as business needs change.
The walkout organizers are holding a virtual town hall Friday for Google employees to discuss retaliation claims.
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