Two women employees of Google, who were the force behind the walkout by Google staff last year, have revealed that the Company has retaliated by demoting them. Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton had organised a walkout of almost 20,000 Google employees, worldwide, to protest against the manner in which the Company had handled sexual harassment cases and incidents of misconduct by senior executives.
The two women have been informed through an internal e-mail of their demotion. With certain duties being taken away from them, Stapleton and Whittaker have said that retaliation against sincere and honest people has to be stopped to fulfil the objective of eliminating/controlling discrimination, harassment, and unethical decision making.
Whittaker who heads Google’s Open Research group, and is the cofounder of the research lab at AI Now Institute, has been informed that there will be a significant change in her role, and that she would no longer be working on AI ethics research.
Stapleton, who is a marketing manager at Google-owned YouTube, found that her work had been assigned to others and she had been demoted. Confirming the culture of retaliation, she revealed that she was not only ignored but asked to go on sick leave even though she was hale and hearty. It is only after she sought legal help and the matter was formally investigated by Google that the demotion was withdrawn. However, she admits that the environment at work is still far from pleasant and makes her want to give up the job.