Google’s Claire Stapleton — one of the key organizers of massive protests at the tech giant last year — has left after she says the company retaliated against her for leading a 20,000-person walkout in November. Stapleton announced in a Medium post that she is no longer with the company.
“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,” Stapleton said in her post. “If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it.”
Although the protest led to major policy changes at Google, Stapleton claims she and other organizers were targeted and retaliated against in the months that followed.
Stapleton originally alleged that her managers retailed against her in April after she and another protest organizer, Meredith Whittaker, were demoted. Stapleton claims that her boss began ignoring her, gave her work given to other people, and rejected a project that was previously approved.
“Only after I hired a lawyer and had her contact Google did management conduct an investigation and walked back my demotion, at least on paper,” Stapleton said in a letter. “While my work has been restored, the environment remains hostile and I consider quitting nearly every day.”
Google has denied any incidents of retaliation against Stapleton or Whittaker, but the employees’ allegations led to another protest within the company.
Whittaker chimed in on Stapleton’s move on Twitter:
.@clairewaves is a sister & a friend & truly wonderful human ♥️ By pushing her out, Google's trying to stop a movement. But that's not how it works — badge or no, Claire isn't going away, nor are the 1000s organizing across the company. 📣 Structural change IS coming to tech https://t.co/hy9pp12zOu
— Meredith Whittaker (@mer__edith) June 7, 2019
In her Medium post, Stapleton said still hopes employees at Google continue to push for change.
“It is my greatest hope in leaving that people 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,” Stapleton said. “I hope that leadership listens. Because if they won’t lead, we will.”
Stapleton’s exit serves as an omen for what may be ahead for other Google protest participants. Moreover, it offers insight into how many attempted-David-and-Goliath stories end.