Google Employees Stage 'Sit-In,' Share Stories of Retaliation from Tech Giant


Google workers protested alleged retaliation from the tech giant by staging sit-ins on May 1, six months after the #GoogleWalkout. Employees participated in the protest at 11 a.m. local time, depending on their location.

On Nov. 1, 20,000 employees left their offices to protest Google’s actions after top managers were accused of sexual harassment, according to The New York Times. One of the executives included Android founder, Andy Ruben.

Two of the walkout organizers, Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, argued that the protest brought up more issues than just Google’s handling of sexual harassment. It also exposed “a history of pay discrimination, systemic racism and the unequal treatment of contract workers,” Vox reported.

However, after the walkout, Stapleton and Whittaker said that Google retaliated against them through various actions.

Stapleton, a marketing manager at YouTube, said in a letter shared with employees that Google tried to demote her.  She said that after she hired a lawyer to fight back, Google “walked back my demotion, at least on paper,” but “the environment remains hostile and I consider quitting nearly every day.”

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Whittaker, a researcher who specializes in artificial intelligence, said she had also been “informed my role would be changed dramatically” and told to “abandon [her] work on AI ethics.”

After that, other employees stepped forward, accusing Google of retaliation after the walkouts, which prompted Whittaker, Stapleton, and other workers to organize the sit-ins on May 1.

In a letter signed by a dozen employees, they said that “Google has a culture of retaliation, which too often works to silence women, people of color, and gender minorities,” according to Fox News.

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Retaliation isn’t always obvious. It’s often confusing and drawn out, consisting of icy conversations, gaslighting, project cancellations, transition rejections, or demotions,” they added.

“The stories we’ve been collecting will be shared, our demands will be read, and all will be in solidarity with those withstanding this chilling practice,” organizers on the Google Walkout For Real Change Twitter account said.

During the sit-in, employees called for policy changes and talked about the retaliation they have faced during their time at Google, tweeting anonymously through the Google Walkout Twitter account.

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At the New York location, more than 200 employees participated in the sit-in, according to The Verge.

Whittaker tweeted that there were “tears and talks of union” during that time.

As other time zones approached 11 a.m., more reports flooded in with Google workers in Cambridge, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and London, to name a few, participating in the protest.

After reaching out to Google for comment, a spokesperson told Fox News on Tuesday that “there has been no retaliation” in the workplace.

“We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and investigate all allegations,” the spokesperson added. “Employees and teams are regularly and commonly given new assignments, or reorganized, to keep pace with evolving business needs.”

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Makenna Baird is a graduate from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Writing. In addition to her work writing for The Western Journal, she has experience editing newsletters, financial reports and advertisements. With a passion for storytelling, she is committed to truth, excellence and service to God in all of her works.
Makenna Baird has been a freelance writer with The Western Journal since 2019. She graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Writing. Previously, Makenna edited newsletters, financial reports and advertisements for corporate clients with Ott Editorial. Nowadays, she writes short fiction in her spare time and works toward becoming a more established author. She is committed to truth, excellence and service to God in all of her works.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
BA, Writing, Calvin College
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