Google fires 28 employees who staged anti-Israel protests at company offices

Demonstrations opposing business with Israeli government and led by No Tech for Apartheid group included 10-hour sit-ins at offices in New York and California; 9 people arrested

The Google office building in New York, February 26, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP)
The Google office building in New York, February 26, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Google said Wednesday it fired 28 employees who staged a sit-in and protests in company offices the previous day to demand the tech giant end its business dealings with the Israeli government.

In a statement following media reports of the development, Google only mentioned that it had terminated the employees for violating company policies — without mentioning the nature of the protests.

Protesters demonstrated on Tuesday at Google offices in several locations, while in New York and California, they held a 10-hour sit-in. Demonstrators held signs saying “No more genocide for profit,” “No cloud for apartheid,” and “Googlers against genocide.”

Many of the protesters wore masks and Palestinian headscarves. Nine people were arrested for trespassing during the protests.

They were organized by the No Tech for Apartheid organization, which posted images of the events on social media.

The protests aimed to demonstrate opposition to Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion project with Inc. to supply artificial intelligence and cloud services for the Israeli government.

The rallies came against the background of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip that started when the Palestinian terror group Hamas led a devastating October 7 cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages.

Among the locations targeted by the Google demonstrators was the sixth floor of the company’s Sunnyvale bureau where Google’s Cloud chief executive officer Thomas Kurian has his office.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior,” Google said in a statement. “After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”

“We have so far concluded individual investigations that resulted in the termination of employment for 28 employees, and will continue to investigate and take action as needed.”

Protests were held in Google offices in New York City, Seattle, and Sunnyvale in California, Bloomberg reported.

Google vice president of global security Chris Rackow sent a companywide memo, obtained by the New York Post, that said “They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers. Their behavior was unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened.”

“Behavior like this has no place in our workplace and we will not tolerate it,” Rackow wrote. “It clearly violates multiple policies that all employees must adhere to – including our code of conduct and policy on harassment, discrimination, retaliation, standards of conduct, and workplace concerns.”

Thomas Kurian speaks at a Google I/O event in Mountain View, California, May 10, 2023. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

The fired workers said in a statement reported by the Post, “This evening, Google indiscriminately fired 28 workers, including those among us who did not directly participate in yesterday’s historic, bicoastal 10-hour sit-in protests.”

“This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2 billion contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers — the ones who create real value for executives and shareholders.”

“Sundar Pichai and Thomas Kurian are genocide profiteers,” the statement added, referring also to Google’s CEO.

“We cannot comprehend how these men are able to sleep at night while their tech has enabled 100,000 Palestinians killed, reported missing, or wounded in the last six months of Israel’s genocide — and counting,” the fired worker said.

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told the Post that about 50 people were involved in the protest in that city and that “four arrests were made for trespassing inside the Google building.”

The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said that around 80 people were involved in the protest there and that five who refused to leave the Google office were “arrested without incident for criminal trespassing,” booked, and then released.

One worker claimed to Bloomberg that protesters did not violate company policies and had left the building when they were asked to without causing any disruption.

A worker told Bloomberg that in the wake of the demonstrations, there was debate on Google’s internal forums between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters while others argued the topic was not suitable for the workplace. Moderators eventually locked down some of the threats, the employee said.

In March, Google fired an employee after he interrupted a speech by the tech firm’s managing director in Israel with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel declarations during a conference in New York City.

Israel responded to the Hamas attack with a military offensive to destroy the terror group, replace its de facto regime in Gaza, and free the hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 33,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. Two hundred and sixty IDF soldiers have been killed in the Gaza offensive.

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