Google Staff Stage Mass Walkout Over Harassment Payouts

Google’s senior management has been hit with a protest over their handling of sexual harassment claims.

Google staff in offices around the world have staged a mass walkout in response to how the firm has handled payouts to those accused of sexual harassment.

It comes after Google boss Sundar Pichai admitted last week that the company had fired 48 employees for sexual harassment over the past two years.

Sexual harassment

The admission from Pichai came in response to a New York Times article that alleged that Google had protected three senior executives from allegations of sexual misconduct, which allegedly included the father of Android Andy Rubin.

Rubin stepped down from his position as Android boss in 2013, and eventually left Google altogether in October 2014.

Rubin however has denied the sexual misconduct allegations and has said that the New York Times story contained ‘numerous inaccuracies,’ and wild exaggerations about his compensation.

But numerous media outlets are reporting that thousands of Google staff have staged a walkout in protest at the company’s lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.

Walkouts began in Asia including Tokyo and Singapore with hundreds of staff walking out.

More staff were pictured n the streets outside Google’s Swiss office in Zurich, and there were protests in Berlin.

And it is reported that Google staff have also walked out of the London and Dublin offices.

“I’m here protesting against harassment in the workplace, to make sure we don’t protect or support those perpetrators of harassment,” one demonstrator told Sky News. “People are supporting those who have been harassed in any workplace situation, by any employer, and this is just part of the movement.”

It is reported that Google staff are being urged to leave a document on their desk which reads: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest [against] sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”

But Google boss Sundar Pichai has reportedly told staff he supports their right to take the action.

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” he was quoted by the BBC as writing in an all-staff email. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.”

Staff anger

It should be remembered that Google has had some issues with its staff in recent years.

In 2017 Google famously fired James Damore, the software engineer whose memo last year criticised the company’s diversity programme.

In January this year Damore sued Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white males.

Damore accused the technology giant of “systematically” singling out, punishing and terminating employees whose views on diversity, social justice and gender bias differed from the majority view at Google.

Damore had reportedly said it was the inherent biological differences between men and women, more so than explicit discrimination that accounts for any gaps that might exist between the genders in the workplace.

And in February this year former Google employee Tim Chevalier hit the search engine giant with another lawsuit, in which he alleged he was fired for his liberal political activism whilst working for the company.

Chevalier’s lawsuit said that he identifies himself as a liberal and as “disabled, queer, and transgender.”

Chevalier alleged that Google staff frequently posted discriminatory and harassing comments about him on internal social forums.

Quiz: What do you know about Google?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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