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Google Fires Another Transgender Employee-Activist

December 28th, 2019 Emma O'Connor

GoogleA 21-year old transgender Google employee named Kathryn Spiers was suspended from her position as a security engineer on November 21st and terminated on December 13th.  She was fired because she published code that created a pop-up notification any time an employee visited the website of IRI consultants, an anti-union consulting firm hired by Google.  The notification was only visible to Google employees and it read, “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”  Spiers developed the notification to give her coworkers a “reminder of their rights” after four employee-activists were fired during Thanksgiving week, days after Google hired IRI consultants.  Three of the five worker-activists that were terminated are transgender women and one identifies as LGBTQ.  According to Spier, “that is either an unbelievable coincidence or Google is targeting the most vulnerable.”  Spiers claims that employees have never been punished for sharing activist-related company-wide notifications in the past, instead, they were always “a celebrated part of the culture.” 

The Allegations Against Google 

Spier claims that she was subjected to three “extremely aggressive” interrogations before her suspension in which she was repeatedly asked if she had any intention to “disrupt the workplace.”  She was denied consultations with attorneys throughout this process. “I believe Google has overreacted in an egregious, illegal and discriminatory manner,” Spier says. Spier and the other four fired employees have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for illegal retaliation. In response, a Google spokeswoman has stated that “ no one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities.”  Google has insisted that the terminations were prompted by the workers’ breaches of Google’s data security policies and abuses of their employee privileges.  

Escalating Tensions

Google was once known for having an exceptionally transparent and progressive company culture but for the past two years the tech giant has faced labor unrest over internal controversies.  Its employees have become more organized, vocal, and engaged in activism. For example, Googlers signed petitions urging the company to adopt an aggressive climate plan, demanding it not to support US agencies involved in immigrant detention, and condemning it for its treatment of temps, vendors, and contractors also known as its “shadow workforce.”  In 2018, Googlers across the world participated in a walkout to protest incidents of sexual harassment, racism, and gender inequality.  More recently, employees have accused Google of installing a surveillance tool to prevent worker organization or unionization. Google’s collaboration with IRI consultants suggests that the company will be cracking down on worker organizing and activism going forward.  

Seek Legal Assistance 

If you are a victim of employer retaliation, the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel. You don’t pay unless we win