Kathryn Spiers: 'I was fired last week by Google for organizing.'

Google denies claim of illegal and retaliatory firing

Yet another person who worked for Google says they were retaliated against by their former employer for organizing.

This time it's Kathryn Spiers.

The engineer and ex-Googler says she lost her job after she created a browser extension to inform co-workers of their labor rights.

Google denies the charge. See below for the company's response.

"I was fired last week by Google for organizing," writes Kathryn Spiers on Medium.com.


During my time on the security team, I've had many conversations about the importance of maintaining user trust. My code — a small notification about employee rights — does not reduce trust. What does is the Director of Detection and Response signing a letter falsely accusing four of my coworkers. Or the fact that upper management is trying to use the security team to investigate employees and their organizing activity. A less transparent Google is a less trustworthy Google.

Google's response to this was to suspend me immediately and without warning. This was the week of Thanksgiving, the same day they fired the Thanksgiving Four. They also dragged me into three separate interrogations with very little warning each time. I was interrogated about separate other organizing activities, and asked (eight times) if I had an intention to disrupt the workplace. The interrogations were extremely aggressive and illegal. They wouldn't let me consult with anyone, including a lawyer, and relentlessly pressured me to incriminate myself and any coworkers I had talked to about exercising my rights at work.

On Friday, December 13 my interrogator called me to tell me that I was being terminated for violating Google's security policies. I asked him how I violated the security policies but he told me that he wouldn't answer that question. On top of this unbridled fury from the company, this is happening right before the holidays. Instead of a joyful celebration of my recent promotion and hard work, I am stunned and hurt while I scramble to find a new job and clear my name.

Google has overreacted in an egregious, illegal, and discriminatory manner. The notification I wrote had no negative effect on our users or other employees and Google will do its best to justify my firing in a way that pits workers against each other but they can't hide behind this fabricated logic forever.

This doesn't just affect me. The company is too powerful and they must be held accountable.

Read the rest of her post: Google Fires Another Worker for Exercising her Rights and Protecting Coworkers from Illegal Company Retaliation [medium.com/@ksspiers]

Here is Google's response, via The Daily Beast.

Royal Hansen, a vice president of technical infrastructure for security and privacy, wrote in an email that went out to all Google employees, "I want to be very clear: the issue was not that the messaging had to do with the NLRB notice or workers' rights."

"Here, she misused a security and privacy tool to create a pop-up that was neither about security nor privacy," he said.

Spiers is the fifth employee in the past month to allege that Google retaliated against her. Four were fired in late November—one had protested against Google's work with Customs and Border Patrol, another against YouTube's hate speech policies.