Extremely difficult working conditions led to one Google X employee collapsing on the job, possibly due to a heart attack, Business Insider reports, citing sources close to the former subsidiary of Google that is now operating under Alphabet. The incident allegedly occurred in February 2015 but came to light only now, the report states, noting that the man who collapsed was an ex-military contractor working on Project Wing, a program aimed at developing delivery drones for various purposes. The unfortunate employee in his 50s collapsed in the Google X facility located in Central Valley, California, either due to a heart attack or a grand mal seizure, sources say, adding that the incident was likely caused by a combination of extremely long working hours and Central Valley’s high temperatures that reached 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit (26° Celsius) in February 2015, according to Weather Underground. The man that ended up collapsing was reportedly working between 10 and 12 hours per day and was constantly enduring heat waves, the report states.
To make matters worse, after returning from a two-month medical leave, the employee was demoted and forced to return to the extreme working conditions on the field before ultimately being laid off almost a year after his collapse. His previous requests for transfers were rejected due to his poor performance reviews that followed his medical leave, many of which were stating the employee “wasn’t a team player,” sources said, questioning how someone who almost gave their life on the job isn’t a team player. The affected employee was also less likely to get another job in the field since his collapse jeopardized his flying license, the report reveals, without detailing what ultimately happened with the man in question.
It’s currently unclear whether the incident described above is an isolated one or a sign of a systemic problem at Google X, but Business Insider claims that many Project Wing employees are now reluctant to quit the job at Alphabet’s subsidiary as they’d still have to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in relocation assistance their employer gave them when it moved Project Titan to Mountain View before shutting down the program and relocating some of its staffers to Project Wing.