Skip to main content

Google walkout organizer quits company after alleged retaliation

Google walkout organizer quits company after alleged retaliation


Claire Stapleton said the company took action against her

Share this story

A Google logo sits at the center of ominous concentric circles
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

One of the organizers of last year’s mass walkout of Google employees has left the company after saying she faced retaliation.

Claire Stapleton helped bring together employees for the 20,000-person walkout protesting the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. In April, Stapleton and another organizer said they had faced retaliation from Google management and that the company had attempted to change their roles.

“Google’s always had controversies and internal debates.”

Today, Stapleton announced in a Medium post that she left the company this week. She also published the internal post that she shared with employees announcing her departure.

In the post, Stapleton says she had been enraptured with Google during her first years, but by 2017, saw the culture differently. “Google’s always had controversies and internal debates, but the ‘hard things’ had intensified, and the way leadership was addressing them suddenly felt different, cagier, less satisfying,” she writes.

After news broke of payouts to executives accused of sexual harassment, she writes, she was inspired to call for the walkout. In April, she said she was told by management that she would be demoted.

Hundreds of employees at the company took part in a sit-in last month protesting the alleged retaliation from the company. Google has denied the retaliation allegations, saying that any changes to positions were not retaliatory. Stapleton says in her post that the response from management to her story has been “depressing.”

Meredith Whittaker, another prominent employee who worked to organize the walkout, said in a tweet that “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.” 

“We thank Claire for her work at Google and wish her all the best,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “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.” 

“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 writes in the post. “If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it.”

Update, 1:18PM ET: Includes statement from Google spokesperson.