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Google worker who organised sexual harassment walkout quits due to management ‘retaliation’

‘If I stayed, I didn’t just worry there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it’ 

Abby Young-Powell
Sunday 09 June 2019 00:00 BST
Google employees leave work for a day in November 2018 to protest claims of sexual harassment
Google employees leave work for a day in November 2018 to protest claims of sexual harassment (Getty)

An employee at Google who helped organise walkouts in protest at claims of sexual harassment has quit, saying she was given a “scarlet letter” and has been punished for standing up to the company.

Claire Stapleton, a former marketing manager at Google who has spent years working for the tech giant, says she made the decision to leave after it became difficult to do her job.

“I made the choice after the heads of my department branded me with a kind of scarlet letter that makes it difficult to do my job or find another one,” Ms Stapleton wrote in a note shared internally and published in an open letter on Medium.

“If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it.”

The walkout, which Stapleton played a leading role in organising, took place in November last year.

Hundreds of members of Google staff, such as engineers and other workers, from offices all over the world, stopped working for a day in protest at the company’s overly lenient treatment of executives accused of abusive behaviour.

The protest, billed “Walkout For Real Change”, took place a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about Andy Rubin, who worked at the company and created its Android software.

The report said Rubin received a £69m severance package in 2014, even though Google concluded the sexual misconduct allegations that he forced a female employee to perform oral sex on him were credible.

It was the way that management answered questions about the Andy Rubin payout – the sidestepping, the jokes, the total lack of accountability – that inspired me to call for the walkout,” Ms Stapleton said in her letter.

These past few months have been unbearably stressful and confusing,” she said. “It pains me greatly to leave.”

Her decision comes during a difficult week for Google. House Democrats have announced a sweeping investigation into the company, alongside other tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon, to decide whether it has become so large and powerful that it is stifling innovation in the industry.

The Independent has contacted Google to provide comment.

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