Google, dark overlord and ruler of the internet, has fired another employee who was active in workplace organizing. Kathryn Spiers, a security engineer with the company, was put on suspension on November 25, according to The Guardian, the same day that four other employees, also active organizers, were fired. The suspension came after Spiers published a piece of code that created a pop up any time a Google employee visited IRI Consultants: an anti-union firm Google had hired. In December, Spiers was fired via phone call. A spokesperson from Google told The Guardian said the company had dismissed an employee who had “abused privileged access to modify an internal security tool.”
Spiers., and the four employees who were fired in November, have filed a complaint against Google alleging that their firings were an unlawful reaction to workplace organizing. But Spiers alleges that the firings may be targeted. “Of the five people that were fired, three of us are trans women,” Spiers told The Guardian. “That is either an unbelievable coincidence or Google is targeting the most vulnerable.”
The pop-up wasn’t the first time Spiers had taken a stand against her employer. Spiers was also part of a protest at the company, held after its leadership decided to change its open policy on accessing internal documents and pivot to a “need to know basis” model, a first for the company. Several employees, including Spiers, responded by building a tool that gave employees the option to email managers any time they opened any document at all to ask if the document was strictly need to know, “The deluge of notifications was meant as a protest,” according to Bloomberg, what was seen as the company’s “insistence on controlling the minutiae of their professional lives.”
Google, once praised for being the Disneyland of workplaces, is now flailing in a mess of its own making. Several workers who staged a walkout earlier this year on the heels of Andy Rubin’s absurd severance package (the executive was removed following sexual assault allegation) have left the company, alleging that they had been victims of retaliation. While Google denies any retaliation against employees, the writing of what’s going on behind the scenes isn’t just on the wall; it’s all over their search engines.