One of the Google employees behind last year’s mass walkout protesting the tech giant’s poor handling of sexual misconduct allegations left the company this week after she said company leaders retaliated against her.
Organizers of the walkout ― a 2018 protest sparked by outrage after the company allegedly paid off top executives accused of harassment ― announced Claire Stapleton’s resignation on Friday, posting the note that she wrote to her colleagues to mark her last day.
In it, Stapleton — who has said that managers essentially forced her out of the company by demoting her and asking her to take medical leave — wrote about her anger regarding the discrepancy she saw between the company’s stated values and its lack of accountability in addressing sexual harassment allegations and other internal issues at the company.
“Google’s lore, its leadership, its promise — the whole thing lit me up, filled me with a sense of purpose, of inspiration, of privilege to be here,” Stapleton wrote. “Refusing to acknowledge our humanity and engage with the deeper issues being raised — well, that’s not very Googley.”
Thousands of Google employees worldwide participated in the walkout last November, demanding the end of the company’s policy of forcing employees into arbitration, which the company did end earlier this year.
They also called for pay equity and a more transparent process of addressing employees’ claims of sexual misconduct.
In April, Stapleton and another walkout organizer, Meredith Whittaker, claimed that they had faced retaliation from company officials for organizing the walkout. Google denied their claims, saying it was common to demote or reassign employees based on performance or business priorities.
Last month, the walkout organizers called for an investigation into Google’s human resources department.
“Google’s HR department is broken,” they wrote. “Over and over again, it prioritizes the company and the reputation of abusers and harassers over their victims. The collateral damage is all around us.”
In her note this week, Stapleton took aim at the company for what she described as a persistent pattern of Google employees being “pushed out or punished for speaking up,” while adding they were “gaslit, discriminated against, isolated, harassed.”
“The more I spoke up about what I was experiencing, the more I heard, and the more I understood how universal these issues are,” she wrote. “That’s why I find it so depressing that leadership has chosen to just bluntly refute my story. They have a different version of what happened; that’s how this works.”
“It pains me greatly to leave because I care so much about this company, its people, and the power it wields in the world,” she continued, before urging other company employees to “continue to speak up and talk to each other, stand up for one another and for what’s right, and keep building the collective voice. I hope that leadership listens. Because if they won’t lead, we will.”
In response to Stapleton’s resignation, a Google spokesperson again denied that the company retaliated against her.
“We thank Claire for her work at Google and wish her all the best. To reiterate, we don’t tolerate retaliation,” the company said in a statement. “Our employee relations team did a thorough investigation of her claims and found no evidence of retaliation. They found that Claire’s management team supported her contributions to our workplace, including awarding her their team Culture Award for her role in the Walkout.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.