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Google Workers Protest Sexual Wrongdoing, Other Issues

Workers protest against Google's handling of sexual misconduct allegations at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Google Workers Protest Sexual Wrongdoing, Other Issues
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Many Google employees protested Thursday against the way the company deals with sexual wrongdoing, unequal pay and discrimination.

Employees walked off the job for a short period at Google offices in Asia, Europe and North America.

The hashtag #Googlewalkout trended worldwide on Twitter. Workers and protesters published images of the demonstrations in over 20 cities.

Hundreds of employees protested outside of Google’s office in New York City. They carried signs with messages like “Not OK Google,” “Respect for Women” and “Don’t Be Evil” -- which used to be Google’s motto.

More than a thousand workers reportedly gathered outside of Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters.

Workers stand outside the Google offices after walking out as part of a global protest over workplace issues in Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 1, 2018.
Workers stand outside the Google offices after walking out as part of a global protest over workplace issues in Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 1, 2018.

In Dublin, Ireland, organizers and protesters showed support for victims of sexual harassment at work. Google employs 7,000 people in the city. It is the company’s largest office outside of the United States.

The protests are the latest effort in a movement that has brought attention to sexual wrongdoing in the workplace. Highly public cases have taken place in politics, business and the entertainment and technology industries.

The Google protests also follow a recent story in the New York Times about accusations of sexual wrongdoing against former-executive Andy Rubin. The newspaper reported that in 2014 Google gave Rubin a $90 million payout to leave the company.

Rubin denied sexual wrongdoing last week on Twitter.

The New York Times also reported on sexual misconduct accusations against other high-level executives, including Richard DeVaul. The director of the Google-connected “X” lab kept his job for several years after the accusations were reported. He resigned this week, reportedly without a special payment.

Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai
Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai

The chief of Google, Sundar Pichai, apologized for the company’s “past actions” in an email sent to employees.

“I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” Pichai wrote. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society...and, yes, here at Google, too.”

Pichai said last week that Google had dismissed 48 employees for sexual harassment in recent years including 13 high-level managers. Google said none of them received payments to leave.

Organizers of Thursday’s protests have called for Google to share information about employees’ pay. They also want changes to make sexual harassment reporting more fair.

Alphabet Inc., the company that owns Google, has about 94,000 employees. Thursday’s protests suggest that a growing number of those workers do not believe the company is following its current motto: “Do the right thing.”

In August, about 1,000 employees signed a letter protesting the company’s plan to create a search engine that would meet China’s censorship requirements.

Earlier this year, thousands of employees demanded that the company cancel Project Maven. The program provides the U.S. Defense Department with artificial intelligence processes to improve drone strikes. Google later reportedly said it would not continue that contract.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is a Democratic Party member who represents the area where Google has its headquarters. She tweeted her support of the Google walkout. Using the #MeToo, Speier wrote, “Why do they think it’s OK to reward perpetrators & further violate victims?”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

motto –n. a short sentence or phrase that expresses a rule guiding the behavior of a particular person or group

harassment –n. to bother someone in a constant or repeated way

executive –n. a person who manages or directs other people in a company or organization

misconduct –n. wrong behavior or activity that is illegal or morally wrong

disappointment --n. the state or feeling of being disappointed, displeased

persist –v. to continue to do something although others want you to stop

manager –n. someone who is in charge of a business, office or department

artificial intelligence n. ability of a machine to reproduce human behavior

drone –n. a kind of small aircraft that flies without a pilot

perpetrator –n. someone who does something illegal or wrong