Google fires employees who helped organize labor protests

Memo says workers were fired for violating security policies.

Google on Monday fired four employees, including a staffer, who were actively involved in organizing labor protests at the company, according to an internal memo.

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The decision came amid rising tensions between Google employees and leadership as the company grapples with giving workers freedom of speech and controlling protests over issues such as climate change, its work with China and the company's handling of sexual harassment.

The tech giant fired the employees for "clear and repeated violations of [Google's] security policies" after they shared calendars and documents related to a protest against the company's decision to hire a firm known for anti-union efforts, the memo published by Bloomberg read.

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The memo added that "none of these individuals were fired for simply looking at documents or calendars during the ordinary course of their work."

"To the contrary, our thorough investigation found the individuals were involved in systematic searches for other employees' materials and work. This includes searching for, accessing, and distributing business information outside the scope of their jobs," it continued.

Software engineers Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland were among those fired after helping to organize a rally last week. Rivers was accused of accessing documents unrelated to her work while Berland was accused of accessing his colleague's internal calendars without the proper permissions, Bloomberg reported.

Rivers publicized her termination in a Monday tweet, writing, "I was just informed by Google that I am being terminated."

About 200 employees rallied against Google's decision to put Rivers and Berland on administrative leave Friday, according to Bloomberg. Other critics voiced their support for the fired workers online, saying the company's decision was in retaliation of protests rather than for security reasons.

Google employees said in a Monday statement that "no meaningful guidance has ever been offered on how employees could consistently comply with" a new policy that makes it "a fireable offense to even look at certain documents."

"With these firings, Google is ramping up its illegal retaliation," the statement continues. "This is classic union-busting dressed up in tech industry jargon, and we won't stand for it."

The tech giant changed its series of national weekly meetings to monthly meetings earlier in November and said they would focus more on product-related matters than culture and personnel matters.

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Google did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.