Home Lead Google Fired Employees Who Protested Israel Cloud Deal. What

Google Fired Employees Who Protested Israel Cloud Deal. What

Should You Do If Your Employees Protest?. Make sure you have all the information before you act. Otherwise, you could end up in risky legal waters.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
images header


Protests over the Israel-Hamas war have intensified on college campuses this week--but what happens when protests pop up in the workplace?  

At Google, employees staged sit-in protests at the company's Sunnyvale, California and New York campuses on April 16 to protest the company's $1.2 billion cloud-computing contract, called Project Nimbus, with the Israeli government. The company responded by firing 28 employees for their involvement, according to a memo obtained by The Verge 

Now, that count is reportedly up to 50. Google declined Inc.'s request for confirmation on how many employees have been fired, but shared that after an investigation into the "physical disruption inside our buildings on April 16," additional employees were fired.

"To reiterate, every single one of those whose employment was terminated was personally and definitively involved in disruptive activity inside our buildings. We carefully confirmed and reconfirmed this," the company's statement said.  

Read More: Can Reading Save us From a Harsh Reality?

Employee protests must be handled carefully, says Andrew Turnbull, partner in the employment and labor group at the multinational law firm Morrison Foerster. While Turnbull declined to comment on the protests at Google, specifically, he says it's important for companies to gather information before they react to demonstrations.  

For instance, even though private-sector employees don't have a constitutional right to free speech at work, some states have laws that "prohibit companies from regulating off duty conduct," Turnbull says. So, where the protest takes place is key. Additionally, while some protests might be peaceful, others might lead to the harassment of employees that could--and, "in some cases, should"--prompt employers to act, he adds.  

Therefore, Turnbull says, what employers can and cannot do in response to protests will be very "fact-specific" to the case at hand.  

But if you want to take action, "connect it to your policies and procedures," Turnbull adds. This shows employees that any consequences they face aren't due to their personal views, but rather to their violation of company policy, he says.

And these policies should be communicated before a protest even happens. "Have clearly thought-out response plans," Turnbull says, "and have managers geared with talking points."

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Last update:
Publish date: