Workers in New York should be able to speak out against workplace wrongdoings without fearing repercussions. Unfortunately, retaliation for such actions is still an ongoing issue that workers across many industries still deal with. Two Google employees recently spoke out about retaliation, detailing their own experiences after they organized a workplace walkout.
The two women organized a 2018 walkout protesting how Google handled cases involving sexual harassment and allegations of misconduct against the company's senior executives. Approximately 20,000 Google employees participated in the walkout. The event made headlines and shone a light on what many thought was a serious and widespread issue within the company. Now the organizers say they are being targeted for their actions.
One of the women co-founded AI Now Institute and works as the head of the Open Research group at Google. After the walkout, she was told that her role at the company would be drastically changing. She was also told she would need to cease all of her research into AI ethics in order to maintain her employment with Open Research.
The other woman who helped organize the walkout works as a marketing manager at YouTube, which is owned by Google. She was demoted from that position soon after the walkout and her work responsibilities were passed off to other people. This demotion was eventually reversed, but only after she took legal action. She says despite being reinstated the workplace itself is not hostile.
Both of these women allege that retaliation at Google is nothing new and is indeed a widespread problem. Google responded to their allegations by saying that it prohibits this type of action. However, a prohibition on retaliation does not mean that it does not happen. When workers in New York face retaliation in the workplace, taking action through a civil lawsuit can be an effective way to achieve just compensation while also affecting workplace change.