'Think again,' Google says to protesters as fired employees speak out

Pro-Palestine demonstrators are speaking out after Google fired 28 employees for protesting at their offices in Sunnyvale, Seattle, and New York on Tuesday.

In Sunnyvale, five people were arrested during the demonstrations

Emaan Haseem is one of the 28 people who were terminated. She’s a software engineer who flew in from Seattle to Sunnyvale to participate in the sit-in. 

She said she went outside when she was asked to leave, and she was not one of the five people arrested. 

She knew she was risking her job, but she says she doesn’t regret it. 

"There was absolutely no way that I could continue working at Google without pushing these demands."

She’s an organizer for the group "No Tech for Apartheid," which led the protest. The group said they were protesting Google’s $1.2 billion contract called NIMBUS, saying the technology is being used to "help the Israeli military target and kill civilians in Gaza."

Google said, that while they do work with the Israeli Ministries, the contract work is "not directly at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services."

"They're continuing to lie not just to their employees, but to the public and all tech workers," said Haseem.

Google called the protesting employees' behavior "unacceptable and disruptive," saying it violates multiple company policies. 

An internal memo from Google leadership reads: "They took over office spaces, defaced our property, and physically impeded the work of other Googlers."

Another part of the memo said, "If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again. The company takes this extremely seriously, and we will continue to apply our longstanding policies to take action against disruptive behavior – up to and including termination."

Attorney David Levine said Google is within its right to fire employees and the First Amendment does not hold weight at a private company, so it would be hard to prove wrongful termination. 

However, he did note that it would cause backlash.

"In California, as in most places in the U.S., you are an at-will employee, meaning you can be fired for any reason or no reason unless the reason is illegal," Levine said. 

The illegal reasons he mentioned were discrimination based on race or religion, which he does not believe is the case with Google.

"Google said they were looking for people engaged in improper conduct and not punishing them for their views," Levine added.

Organizers said people who were not directly involved in the protest were also fired.

"It has just been an absolute shame to be associated to the company's name while the company continues to avoid any accountability," Haseem said.

She also said their goal is now to double down on their demands with Big Tech.

The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said all five people arrested were released immediately after posting bail, but the investigation has not been submitted to the District Attorney’s office, so they could not say whether any charges would come.

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.