Former Google contractor says she was axed after asking for full-time job

Masheika Allen said in a nearly 1,500-word letter that temps, vendors and contractors are “expendable” at Google.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
3 min read

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

A woman identifying herself as a former Google contractor said she lost her job at the search giant two years ago after applying for a full-time position.

Masheika Allen said in a Facebook post Wednesday that she was dismissed eight months before her contract was set to expire because her manager was "offended" by her application.

The post also included a nearly 1,500-word letter Allen said she sent to Google's executive staff in 2016 about her experience as a TVC -- short for temps, vendors and contractors at the world's largest search engine.

"I never posted this openly, but I sent it to the executive staff at Google after being unceremoniously dismissed from my year contract 8 months early - because my manager was offended that I applied for an FTE [full-time employee] position," Allen's post begins. "For no other reason."

Allen couldn't be reached for comment. Google didn't reply to multiple requests for comment. It wasn't immediately possible to verify that Allen had been a contractor at the search giant.   

Allen shared the letter the same day Google TVCs posted an open letter on Medium to CEO Sundar Pichai that demanded equal benefits and higher wages. The group also asked for access to company town hall meetings, as well as to be given information that Google shares with its full-time workers, but not temps. For example, the letter notes, full-time workers received real-time updates when a shooter attacked Google-owned YouTube's campus in April, while TVCs were left in the dark. Google declined to comment on the open TVC letter on Wednesday.

Allen's post also comes as protest at Google has ratcheted up. Last month, 20,000 full-time workers and contractors staged a worldwide walkout to protest its handling of sexual harassment claims against key executives.

Organizers of the walkout asked for the end of forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. (Forced arbitration means that people waive their right to sue, and sometimes must agree to confidentiality agreements.) Google capitulated to some of the demands, dropping forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases. But walkout organizers felt the changes didn't go far enough, especially regarding rights for TVCs.

In her LinkedIn profile, Allen says she worked under contract as a content reviewer for Google from February to October in 2015, then as a technical writer from March to July 2016. She now works at Nvidia as a software product manager, according to her profile. The company on Thursday confirmed her employment. Allen has also been involved with advocacy projects and groups, such as Techies and Lesbians Who Tech.

In the letter, Allen asks for more transparency between TVCs and their point of contact at Google. If a contract is terminated, she says the reasoning should be documented with the contracting company. Allen also said TVCs should have minimum contract timeframes. That would help with contractors who need to deal with housing commitments, she said.

Google didn't respond to questions about how it currently handles TVC contracts.

The company had more than 94,000 employees as of September. While it doesn't break out the number of contractors, Bloomberg reported in July that contractors outnumbered direct employees earlier this year for the first time in the company's history. It's unclear what the numbers are today.

"If this were my first time encountering a story like mine at Google, I wouldn't have felt the need to write this," Allen's letter says. "But it has become commonplace knowledge amongst TVCs that we are expendable. That we can be left unemployed and potentially homeless at any time if we rub our POC [point of contact] the wrong way, shine too brightly, or indicate frustration at the carrot of conversion being dangled but never materializing."

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