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Wed, May

Google Fires 28 Employees Over Protest

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On Wednesday, Google terminated 28 employees who had participated in a protest against the contract with the Israeli government that Google shares with its rival, Amazon. The firings happened after nine employees were arrested on Tuesday during sit-in protests at Google offices in Sunnyvale, California, and New York City. The detained workers were released after a few hours, according to employees.

The employees, part of a group called No Tech for Apartheid, have been writing letters and staging protests against Google’s deal to sell technology to Israel since 2021. The tension over the cloud-computing contract, known as Nimbus, among employees at Google and Amazon has increased since the Israel-Gaza war began in October. The project’s critics say it will bolster the Israeli government’s surveillance of Palestinians and lead to further displacement and discrimination.

In an email statement, a Google spokesperson said the workers were fired for “physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities,” which is “a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior.”

“After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety,” the email said. “We have so far concluded individual investigations that resulted in the termination of employment for 28 employees, and will continue to investigate and take action as needed.”

The 28 fired employees, who were locked out of their work devices Tuesday evening and learned of their termination over email that morning, said they were shocked and angered by the company’s decision.

“I’m furious,” said one of the fired employees who helped organize the sit-in but didn’t directly participate. “This is a wildly disproportionate response to workers standing up for morality and for holding Google accountable for its own promises. Firing people associated with an event they don’t like — it’s unbelievable.” 

During the sit-in at Google’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Tuesday, workers occupied the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. But employees who participated in the action, videos of which were posted to Instagram, denied that they impeded anyone else at Google from working.

“Even the workers who were participating in a peaceful sit-in and refusing to leave did not damage property or threaten other workers,” Jane Chung, a spokesperson for No Tech for Apartheid, said in an email. “Instead they received an overwhelmingly positive response and shows of support.”

Amazon also holds a Nimbus contract with Israel, and Amazon employees participated in the No Tech for Apartheid actions on Tuesday, but there have been no reports of Amazon workers being arrested or fired. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.