Thursday, April 25, 2024

"This is a business." Google CEO fired back and fired protesting employees.

"This is a business, not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe…."

Those were the words of Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a post on his company's corporate blog.

He's referring to Google's recent firing of 50 workers involved in protests against the company's cloud-computing contract with the Israeli government.

The pro-Palestinian worker group, No Tech for Apartheid, staged sit-in protests at Google’s offices on both coasts.

The group says that Google is "silencing [their] voices."

Guess what? It isn't. Google "is a business," as Sundar Pichai so eloquently and succinctly wrote. Employees are paid to do their jobs, not to disrupt others from doing theirs.

Employees have the right to think whatever they want to think and hold whatever opinions they want to hold. I'd even go one step further and argue that it's not realistic to eliminate political discourse from the workplace, provided that it remains civil, professional, and respectful.

When employees act on those opinions, however, in a manner that disrupts their workplace and their employer's business, they've crossed the line and should be held accountable … not for their beliefs, but for their actions.

Employees, when you run your own business, you can do what you want with it. Until then, however, just do your jobs and leave the disruption at the door.

How do you manage the discussion of political or other controversial topics insider your workplace. Here are 7 suggestions.

1./ Remind employees of your expectation through general (and non-political) civility or respectful-workplace training.

2./ Establish a clear differentiation between political opinions (tolerated) and unlawful harassment or other more generalized bullying (not tolerated).

3./ Do not have an organizational position towards one side of an issue or the other. 

4./ Consider keeping workplace televisions (such as in the lunchroom) tuned to something other than a news channel.

5./ Limit displays in the workplace (i.e., buttons, shirts, banners, signs, etc.). But, if you allow for one, you must allow for all.

6./ Keep an eye on your state's laws, which may prohibit an employer from discriminating or retaliating against employees for political activities, political opinions, or political speech.

7./ Also keep an eye on the National Labor Relations Act, which will protect political speech if it relates to terms and conditions of employment (i.e., wages, paid family leave, discrimination, safety, etc.).