May 27, 2024

Google has fired 28 employees over their participation in a 10-hour sit-in at the search giant’s offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, to protest the companys business ties with the Israel government, The Post has learned.

The pro-Palestinian staffers — who had donned traditional Arab headscarves as they stormed and occupied the office of a top executive in California on Tuesday — were terminated late Wednesday after an internal investigation, Google vice president of global security Chris Rackow said in a companywide memo.

“They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers,” Rackow wrote in the memo obtained by The Post. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened.

In New York, protesters had occupied the 10th floor of Google’s offices in the Chelsea section of Manhattan as part of a protest that also extended to the companys offices in Seattle for what it called No Tech for Genocide Day of Action.

Behavior like this has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it,” Rackow wrote. “It clearly violates multiple policies that all employees must adhere to including our code of conduct and policy on harassment, discrimination, retaliation, standards of conduct, and workplace concerns.

Rackow added that the company takes this extremely seriously, and we will continue to apply our longstanding policies to take action against disruptive behavior up to and including termination.

The fired staffers are affiliated with a group called No Tech For Apartheid, which has been critical of Googles response to the Israel-Hamas war.

The group had posted several videos and livestreams of the protests on its X account including the exact moment that employees were issued final warnings and arrested by local police for trespassing.

The protesters have demanded that Google pull out of a $1.2 billion Project Nimbus contract in which Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services provide cloud-computing and artificial intelligence services for the Israeli government and military.

Critics at the company raised concerns that the technology would be weaponized against Palestinians in Gaza.

The impacted workers blasted Google over the firings in a statement shared by No Tech For Apartheid spokesperson Jane Chung.

This evening, Google indiscriminately fired 28 workers, including those among us who did not directly participate in yesterdays historic, bicoastal 10-hour sit-in protests, the workers said in the statement.

This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers the ones who create real value for executives and shareholders.

“Sundar Pichai and Thomas Kurian are genocide profiteers, the statement added, referring to Google’s CEO and the CEO of its cloud unit, respectively.

We cannot comprehend how these men are able to sleep at night while their tech has enabled 100,000 Palestinians killed, reported missing, or wounded in the last six months of Israels genocide and counting.”

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An NYPD spokesperson said the Tuesday protest involved approximately 50 participants in total and confirmed four arrests were made for trespassing inside the Google building.

The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said the protest in California consisted of around 80 participants. A total of five protesters who refused to leave the Google office were arrested without incident for criminal trespassing, booked and released, a spokesperson added.

It couldnt immediately be learned if all nine arrested employees were among those who were fired. Google had earlier placed the employees on administrative leave and cut their access to internal systems.

Last month, Google fired a software engineer who publicly blasted one of the companys Israel-based executives during a tech conference in New York City.

When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson confirmed the firings.

These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely dont work at Google, the spokesperson said in a statement.

A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a few of our locations. Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior.

We have so far concluded individual investigations that resulted in the termination of employment for 28 employees, and will continue to investigate and take action as needed, the spokesperson added.

The demonstrators stormed the personal office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale.

Kurians custom-made, framed Golden State Warriors jersey was visible on the office wall in the background of the livestream, and employees wrote a list of their demands on his white board.

The companywide memo can be read in its entirety below.

Googlers,

You may have seen reports of protests at some of our offices yesterday. Unfortunately, a number of employees brought the event into our buildings in New York and Sunnyvale. They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened. We placed employees involved under investigation and cut their access to our systems. Those who refused to leave were arrested by law enforcement and removed from our offices. 

Following investigation, today we terminated the employment of twenty-eight employees found to be involved. We will continue to investigate and take action as needed.

Behavior like this has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it. It clearly violates multiple policies that all employees must adhere to including our Code of Conduct and Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation, Standards of Conduct, and Workplace Concerns.

We are a place of business and every Googler is expected to read our policies and apply them to how they conduct themselves and communicate in our workplace. The overwhelming majority of our employees do the right thing. If youre one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again. The company takes this extremely seriously, and we will continue to apply our longstanding policies to take action against disruptive behavior up to and including termination. 

You should expect to hear more from leaders about standards of behavior and discourse in the workplace.

Chris