Tech reviews

Fired Google Employees File Complaint over Anti-Israel Office Sit-Ins

Former Google employees filed a federal labor complaint against the tech giant Monday evening, claiming they were illegally fired for protesting their then-employer’s partnership with the Israeli government and asking for better working conditions.

The complaint, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, alleges Google violated their rights “by terminating and/or placing them on administrative leave in response to their protected concerted activity, namely, participation (or perceived participation) in a peaceful, non-disruptive protest that was directly and explicitly connected to their terms and conditions of work,” according to a copy obtained by the Washington Post.

On April 16, Google workers staged sit-ins at the company’s offices in New York City, Seattle, and Sunnyvale, Calif., calling attention to Google and Amazon’s $1.2 billion contract with Israel. The joint contract, called Project Nimbus, provides cloud-computing and artificial-intelligence services to the Israeli government. Police arrested at least nine protesters across the country after they refused to abandon the ten-hour sit-in, organized by No Tech for Apartheid.

Google fired at least 28 employees a day later, with an additional 20 firings coming the following week. Approximately 50 workers were terminated, according to an April 22 statement made by No Tech for Apartheid. Google declined to confirm the total figure.

National Review was unable to obtain a copy of the complaint from the NLRB. No Tech for Apartheid did not respond to a request for comment.

“This is a very clear case of employees disrupting and occupying work spaces, and making other employees feel threatened and unsafe,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement provided to NR. “By any standard, their behavior was completely unacceptable — and widely seen as such.

“We carefully confirmed and reconfirmed that every single person whose employment was terminated was directly and definitively involved in disruption inside our buildings,” the spokesperson added. “We are confident in our position and stand by the actions we’ve taken.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, whose Sunnyvale office was occupied by protesting workers, told company staff members that they shouldn’t use the workplace to “fight over disruptive issues or debate politics,” according to an email sent a day after the firings began.

The fired workers, however, argue that they were allowed to protest for improved working conditions, which include developing software like the Israeli contract.

“That’s legally protected activity,” said an anonymous software engineer who was fired. “Sundar can say he doesn’t want that, but the National Labor Relations Act says otherwise. Google is probably the most powerful company in the world, and the work the workers do every day has an incredible impact. To pretend it’s objective and you can’t talk about the effects of that is absurd.”

Meanwhile, No Tech for Apartheid activists continue demanding that Google cancel Project Nimbus amid the Israel–Hamas war in Gaza. The anti-Israel group criticizes Google for profiting from the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza, saying the casualty count amounts to a “genocide.”

Google maintains that the contract “is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services,” a spokesperson said earlier this month following the nationwide office protests.

This isn’t the first time Google has been criticized over its ties to Israel. Google and Amazon workers previously rebuked companies for the Nimbus contract by penning an anonymous Guardian op-ed in October 2021. In the column, they wrote that their employers’ pursuits of “contracts with institutions like the US Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), and state and local police departments” are “part of a disturbing pattern of militarization, lack of transparency and avoidance of oversight.”


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