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Google Employees Call for ‘May 1 Day of Action’ to Protest Alleged Retaliation

April 29, 2019, 9:45 PM UTC
Google employees hold signs during a walkout in November to protest how the tech giant handled sexual misconduct.
Google employees hold signs during a walkout in November to protest how the tech giant handled sexual misconduct.
Michael Short—Bloomberg/Getty Images

A group of Google employees are calling for a “May 1st Day of Action” to protest what they describe as the company’s “culture of retaliation” and to mark the sixth month anniversary of a company-wide walkout, in which some 20,000 Googlers protested the company’s policies around equity and transparency, including its handling of sexual misconduct.

The call to action—which prompts employees to take steps such as using a personal sick day or joining a May Day rally—was made in a widely shared internal company post viewed by Fortune. “This is a critical time for us to examine how the issues that were raised at the walkout have been handled (poorly), and to demand that the culture of retaliation be reversed immediately,” it reads.

Google declined to comment on the post and directed Fortune to a statement it released last week, when a pair of employees first came forward to accuse the company of retaliating against them for organizing the November walkout and other actions. “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy,” reads the statement. “To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation.”

The Day of Action proposal comes on the heels of an employee-run town hall on Friday, which was held to discuss what some workers say is retaliation by the company. According to the internal posting, roughly 10,000 Googlers watched the town hall live or streamed video footage after the event.

The town hall was led by the two employees, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, who last week posted an internal open letter detailing the ways they allege Google has retaliated against them for their organizing efforts. Whittaker and Stapleton were among the leaders of the walkout and are part of a larger group of employees who have been publicly and vocally pushing back against what they view as unethical business decisions, as well as the company’s treatment of marginalized groups.

On May 1, International Workers Day, the posting suggests that in addition to taking a personal sick day or joining a May Day rally, employees post flyers and set up email auto-responses that communicate messaging from the organizers, and abstain from interviewing employee candidates “because of ethical reasons, because of HR failures, because you cannot in good faith recommend working at Google.”

The posting links to a set of demands, including a call for a “transparent, open investigation of HR.” It also provides a link for employees to share their own experiences of retaliation at the company. “Sadly retaliation is a familiar story for many of us, and disproportionally harms women, people of color, and gender minorities,” it reads. “Together we can and must put an end to this insidious routine—at Google, throughout the industry, and beyond.”