Google has found itself at odds with its employees again in an ironic twist that will see workers staging a sit-in over the alleged mistreatment of Googlers who had taken part as organizers of last year's walk-out, CNET reports. The protest is set to take place on May 1 -- which also happens to be May Day -- and will take place from 11 AM.
Leading up to the sit-in, Googlers held a town hall meeting to discuss retaliation that took place across several Google offices globally. Although there are currently no figures available, regarding the number of employees to take part in Wednesday's protest, hundreds of instances related to retaliation against workers who speak out against misconduct are said to have been brought to light during the gathering.
Reprisals for retaliation
The latest uprising at Google chiefly stems from reports centered around two employees who were responsible for organizing a walk-out that took place in early November 2018. Fueled by Google's mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against members of the company's upper management, around 20,000 workers took part in that protest. Behind the scenes, helping to drive the protest forward were Google’s Open Research lead Meredith Whittaker and YouTube marketing manager Claire Stapleton.
The event itself ultimately resulted in some changes to policy at the search giant, with the goal of creating a safer organization and making the process of reporting misconduct an easier process.
In the following months, Ms. Whittaker and Ms. Stapleton faced increasing difficulties at their respective jobs. In one case, Google threatened to remove Ms. Whittaker from her position at the company unless she left working on AI ethics with the AI Now Institute she co-founded with New York University.
For Ms. Stapleton, the walk-out was followed by the news that she'd be demoted from her managing position amid growing hostility. Managers at the company began ignoring her and reportedly told her to take sick time without any cause for the suggestion. The demotion was only taken off of the table after the marketing manager brought in her own legal counsel to bear.
A history of allegations at crunch time
As indicated above, this isn't the first time Google has had serious allegations leveled against it or had its employees rebel on the basis of those. The events leading up to the May Day sit-in are only the most recent examples.
Prior to that and within the last year, workers have protested the search giant's secretive dragonfly project -- rallying against its attempt to create a China-specific and Chinese government assisting search engine. They've also stood up against their work in response to the company's efforts to help the US military build out its own AI-driven solutions and in a bid to ensure that contract workers and other "temp" employees are treated fairly.
On top of all of that, Google is facing increased scrutiny on the world stage due to its anti-competitive practices and allegations of bias in its search results. That's without consideration for various cases and reports brought against the company for its data collection and location tracking practices.
All of these allegations are going to have a severe impact on Google's public image and just in time for the company's annual I/O event -- running from May 7 through May 9. The company hasn't commented on the sit-in yet but it's likely there aren't many worse circumstances for it to be facing renewed fighting against its own employees.