Another Google employee, a security engineer Kathryn Spiers, was illegally terminated for notifying her co-workers of their rights to organize unions. This is not the first time Google fires its employees for taking part in internal activism and related activities. Four company’s engineers who are now known as the Thanksgiving Four were dismissed allegedly for threatening the company’s security by sharing confidential information. Nevertheless, the real reason might have been their participation in protests and organizing. In fact, Spiers was fired the same day as the Thanksgiving Four.
As her fellow ex-colleagues, Spiers has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board about the company’s labor practices. She believes that she did not violate any Google policy and that her termination was illegal and rather had to do with her attempt to let her co-workers know about their rights.
Kathryn Spiers worked on a Platform Security Team and had exemplary results in her performance reviews. “I was very good at my job and Google has acknowledged this,” she says in her blogpost. Her tasks usually included writing lines of code to create notifications for her co-workers who used Chrome within the company. Those notifications would let them know about Google policies and employee guidelines.
After finding out that Google decided to hire a firm known for anti-union efforts, Spiers wanted to make sure the people knew about their rights. Therefore, she created a pop-up that would show up whenever Google employees visited the company above's website or the community guidelines policy. This pop-up said, “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”
In response to this, Google suspended the ex-employee without even warning her. However, it is known that the company has never reacted to such notification like this before.
Kathryn Spiers was interrogated three times while not letting her contact anyone and asking her about organizing activities.
This is the engineer’s comment on the interrogation and the incident in general,
Google has overreacted in an egregious, illegal, and discriminatory manner. The notification I wrote had no negative effect on our users or other employees and Google will do its best to justify my firing in a way that pits workers against each other but they can’t hide behind this fabricated logic forever.
A vice president of information security, Royal Hansen, wrote in an email to all Googlers,
I want to be very clear: the issue was not that the messaging had to do with the NLRB notice or workers' rights. The decision would have been the same had the pop-up message been on any other subject.