Google employees plan walkout over handling of sexual misconduct claims

Workers are upset about the company's decision to reportedly protect prominent executives.

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
2 min read

Google employees are planning a walkout from the company's offices.  

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google employees are organizing a protest over the company's response to reports of sexual misconduct by a prominent executive, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The timing of the protest, which will take the form of a walkout by employees, hasn't been finalized. But it's tentatively planned for Thursday, according to the person familiar with the matter. BuzzFeed reported the news earlier Monday.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

News of the planned walkout comes days after The New York Times published a bombshell investigative report on sexual harassment at Google. According to the Times' report, Android creator Andy Rubin was accused by a worker of coercing her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2013. Google reportedly found the allegation to be credible. The company then asked for his resignation, gave him an exit package of $90 million, and didn't mention the misconduct in his departure announcement, according to the Times.

In response to the article, Rubin tweeted the "story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation." He added, "These false allegations are part of a smear campaign."

The protest is expected to include more than 200 engineers, according to BuzzFeed.

The walkout is just the latest example of Google workers calling out their employer over the company's decisions. A handful of employees have reportedly quit over reports of a project called "Dragonfly," an effort to build a censored search engine in China. And about 1,000 employees signed an open letter asking the company to be transparent about the project and to create an ethical review process for it that includes rank-and-file employees, not just high-level executives.

Employees have also pushed back against the company's decision to go after lucrative military contracts. Workers challenged Google's decision to take part in Project Maven, a Defense Department initiative aimed at developing better AI for the US military. More than 4,000 employees reportedly signed a petition addressed to Pichai demanding the company cancel the project. In June, Google said it wouldn't renew the Maven contract or pursue similar contracts.

A week later, Google CEO Sundar Pichai released ethical guidelines regarding the company's development of AI. He said Google would not create technology that would be used for weapons, but said Google would still pursue work with the military.

After the Times story was published Thursday, Pichai reportedly sent out an email to employees telling them Google is "dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace."

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