Google fired the engineer who built a tool that notifies employees of their labour rights

Security engineer says Google fired her for trying to notify co-workers of right to organise.


“I was doing nothing more than notifying my co-workers about Google's obligations under labour law,” Kathryn Spiers, the former Google engineer, said.


Google has fired a security engineer who updated a company tool to notify co-workers of their right to organise, spurring a labour complaint and adding to recent scrutiny of how the company has handled unionisation efforts.


Kathryn Spiers, who worked as a security engineer, updated an internal Chrome browser extension so that each time Google employees visited the website of IRI Consultants — the Troy, Michigan, firm that Google hired this year amid a groundswell of labour activism at the company — they would see a pop-up message that read: “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”


Spiers was placed on administrative leave the week of Thanksgiving, the same week the company fired four other employees who claim Google has been engaged in illegal efforts to discourage workers engaged in organising employees.


“We dismissed an employee who abused privileged access to modify an internal security tool,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement, adding that it was “a serious violation.”


Spiers said she was acting in the interest of her co-workers.


“I was doing nothing more than notifying my co-workers about Google's obligations under labour law,” Spiers said in a text message. “Googlers are expected to take initiative and it's really important we hold upper management accountable."

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