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Leader of worker protests at Google quits, alleging "retaliation" by company

Google employees protest handling of sexual misconduct cases
  • Claire Stapleton said she opted to quit her 12-year job at Google rather than endure "more public flogging, shunning and stress."
  • The YouTube marketing manager helped organize a highly publicized walkout by workers late last year to protest Google's handling of sexual harassment claims.
  • Google denies Stapleton's account of how she's been treated since the walkout, and thanked her for her work.

An organizer of employee protests at Google quit this week after a dozen years with the company, saying she'd been branded by higher-ups with "a kind of scarlet letter" that made her job increasingly difficult. 

Among the organizers of a November demonstration that had 20,000 Google workers temporarily leaving their desks to protest Google's handling of sexual harassment claims, Claire Stapleton said she opted to exit rather than endure what she called retribution from those running her department.

"If I stayed, I didn't just worry that there'd be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it," Stapleton, a marketing manager at YouTube, wrote in a Medium post explaining her decision to resign from her position after 12 years at Google. 

Relaying that she was expecting another child in the fall, Stapleton said she was mindful of the potential impact to her health as well as her "incredible privilege in being able to walk away from a job like this."

In an emailed statement, Google thanked Stapleton for her work, while refuting her account of how she'd been treated.

"We thank Claire for her work at Google and wish her all the best. To reiterate, we don't tolerate retaliation. 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," a spokesperson for the technology company stated. 

Google's public stances came under fire again this week when YouTube changed its tune on enforcing anti-harassment policies of one user who spouted homophobic and racist slurs against a Vox reporter. 

YouTube said it would "demonetize" the videos to prevent right-wing personality Steven Crowder from making money from the content, but that even "deeply offensive" opinions such as he expressed did not violate its policies. 

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