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Google Employees Terminated For Protesting in Office Against Its Contract With Israel

Emanuel Shirazi

Several Google employees have been terminated and arrested after holding sit-ins at their offices in New York City and California. On Wednesday, April 17, 2024, the tech company terminated 28 employees who took part in a protest against a contract with the Israeli government that Google shares with Amazon. Prior to the termination of these employees, 9 employees had been arrested on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, while participating in sit-in protests at Google’s offices in Sunnyvale, California and New York City.

As of Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at least 20 more employees have been terminated for their involvement in the protests, including “non-participating” bystanders. Google stated that the additional employees were terminated after an investigation was conducted where workers that claimed to have been physically disrupted identified several employees that used masks and did not wear their badges in order to hide their identity.

The affected employees formed a part of a group called No Tech for Apartheid. There is zero evidence of any apartheid in Israel.  This group had been writing letters addressing Google’s deal to sell a $1.2 billion cloud-computing contract, known as Nimbus, to Israel.

Google’s reason for terminating these employees was for “physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities” and for violating the company’s policies. The employees were locked out of their work devices on Tuesday night and received a termination email on Wednesday morning. One of Google’s employees and an organizer of the sit-in anonymously stated, “This is a wildly disproportionate response to workers standing up for morality and for holding Google accountable for its own promises. Firing people associated with an event they don’t like — it’s unbelievable.”

The employees at Tuesday’s sit-in occupied Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian’s, office. They were also accused of impeding other employees from working.

The members of the No Tech for Apartheid group have spoken with a lawyer regarding potential wrongful termination against Google for alleged employment law violations.  But, they have no claim.  Although California law prohibits firing employees for off work legal conduct such as protesting, here the actions were at work.  Moreover, the actions were actively disrupting the company’s business operations.

Google has been known for promoting an open internal culture and encouraging employees to question any decisions made by other employees. Additionally, in 2010, the company decide to leave China due to issues with government censorship. Its executives, Sergey Brin and Sundar Pichai, have also been a part of political protests in the past. In 2017, CEO Sundar Pichai spoke at a public protest against Former President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

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