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Published on April 18, 2024
Google Fires 28 Employees Over Protests Against Israeli Government Contract Amidst Internal DissentSource: Anthony Quintano from Mount Laurel, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Google has reportedly terminated the employment of 28 workers involved in protests against a controversial cloud and AI services contract with the Israeli government. The billion-dollar joint venture with Inc., dubbed Project Nimbus, has ignited internal division and led to employee actions spanning Google offices from coast to coast.

The workers who faced dismissal had staged a multi-hour sit-in at various Google premises on Tuesday, including the New York City, Seattle, and Sunnyvale, California locations. According to SFist, the employees gathered within the confines of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian's office for over nine hours. The ensuing action saw offices occupied and has put those responsible under the scrutiny of Google's disciplinary measures. A video recording of the arrests of several protesters drew attention to the intensity of the situation.

Asserting a zero-tolerance stance for policy breaches, Google has alleged that employees involved had obstructed the workflow and office access of their colleagues, an accusation that culminated in firings. "Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior," Google stated, as per information obtained by Time.

The employee group No Tech for Apartheid claims the company has indiscriminately targeted workers, including some not directly involved in the sit-ins. In a charged address seen on Medium, the group lashed out at Google, saying, "This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers." Employees outside were fired whom the company associated with the protest actions, further complicating the clarity of the situation and the basis for dismissals.

Internal strife continued after the protests, as Google workers debated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on company forums, with some threads shut down due to escalating tension. Bloomberg reported that while Google has increasingly faced difficulties managing employee dissent, the company has also been accused of retaliation against workers vocal against certain company contracts and policies.

Against the backdrop of these events, the tech giant’s long-fostered culture of open debate has been clashing with outcries from employees advocating for ethical considerations in their labor output. A couple of the dismissed workers conveyed to Time the growing support for their cause despite Google's hard-line response.