Earlier this month, Google put Rivers and Laurence Berland on leave for allegedly violating company policies. At the time, Google said one had searched for and shared confidential documents that were not pertinent to their job, and one had looked at the individual calendars of some staffers.
Protestors on Friday, however, said Google was punishing Berland and Rivers for speaking out against the company. The rally, where both Berland and Rivers spoke, was in protest of their administrative leaves.
Ahead of the rally, organizers said the “attack” on Rivers and Berland “is an attack on all people who care about transparency and accountability for tech.” Organizers pointed to how Rivers helped create the petition to demand Google end its contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and how Berland has participated in a number of worker-organized campaigns, including the one resisting YouTube’s role in facilitating hate speech.
Since the massive employee-led walkout last November, organizers say Google has tried to undermine further attempts to organize. In July, walkout co-organizer Meredith Whittaker left the company following reports of retaliation in April. Organizers of the rally say both Rivers and Berland were put on leave for “simply looking at openly shared internal information.”
This comes shortly after The New York Times reported Google hired an anti-union firm, ISI Consultants. Google employees, who the Times kept anonymous, discovered Google’s relationship with ISI via internal calendar entries.
I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.