As tensions rise in companies, technology workers are talking about the cost of speaking

Francis Hawgen; Janneke Parish; Chelsea Glasson

Matt McClain / Washington Post / Bloomberg by Getty Images; Janneke Parish; Chelsea Glasson

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Matt McClain / Washington Post / Bloomberg by Getty Images; Janneke Parish; Chelsea Glasson

Francis Hawgen; Janneke Parish; Chelsea Glasson

Matt McClain / Washington Post / Bloomberg by Getty Images; Janneke Parish; Chelsea Glasson

Former Apple program manager Janneke Parrish received some unsolicited news from her manager last month.

“I was told I was under investigation,” she said.

Someone issued a press release linking the company to Apple CEO Tim Cook and a warning note about the escape. Parish did not deny any involvement, but Apple had doubts. She said she took her phone and other equipment.

Apple soon came to a decision.

“I was told that I was being terminated due to deletion before I moved my applications and files to the company,” Parish said.

Parish believes that Apple targeted her because she helped organize the #AppleToo movement. Apple has not commented on the incident, except to say that it is investigating all of the company’s concerns.

The pace is growing between major technology companies and those who challenge how those companies use their power. At the end of last year, Google fired a prominent black researcher who questioned the treatment of color and women. At the same time, Google fired two employees of the National Labor Relations Board.

Recently, Facebook reportedly shut down its internal message board after a former employee leaked the company’s research to the media. Last week, Netflix fired a transgender employee who fired his colleagues at the Dave Chapele Special, which joked about transgender people ‘s expenses. The company released the employee information; The employee denies.

Technology companies have taken pride in promoting opposition at all levels. They have established themselves as a stronghold of freedom of expression and debate. Now, however, many employees are daring to speak out and the organizations are taking action to protect their reputation.

Silicon Valley historian Margaret Omar believes the epidemic has eased tensions. She says that technology workers, like everywhere else, are questioning the meaning of work in their lives.

“This feels like a new moment,” Omar said. “It reflects how big these companies are. That is changing the culture. There are a lot of voices. There are a lot of opinions. There is little patience to take these executives on their own terms.”

Speaking on Google, she said it costs money and emotionally.

Former Google researcher Chelsea Glasen says many technology workers need to anticipate future problems.

Glason left Google in 2019 after blowing his whistle on what she saw as discrimination against pregnant workers. She is still struggling with the effects of this decision on her career and personal life.

“It is really a marathon to hold a big tech company accountable for the misconduct, observation or experience of a person,” she said.

Glasson is now suing Google for discrimination. Google does not discuss this issue. Apple and Netflix also do not make it available for public interviews.

Glasson gave a preview of her speech to the Alphabet Workers Union, NPR, on Thursday on Google.

While Facebook researcher Francis Hawgen may attract international attention, she says there are many other technologists who are too scared to speak – and sometimes for good reason.

“For every Franciscan, there are many more employees whose stories will not be broken by noise,” she said in a statement. “There are countless people who have sued, testified in Congress or written an open letter, who are silently afraid of retaliation, who are afraid of health insurance or immigration, or who are worried that their work will be ruined.”

Although her feud with Google did not completely disrupt her business, she said she was losing money as a result of increasing legal fees and ostracizing her former colleagues. The stress was so severe that she had to check herself in for a month.

“Before all this, I am not the same person but I am trying to get there,” she told her former colleagues.

She said the workers needed legal support and better mental health resources.

She told the union about the threat posed by a technology company to the public, noting that it should not be limited to a few.

Former Apple employee Parish has a different perspective. She hopes the company’s action will encourage other employees to speak up.

She says technology workers are no longer willing to take higher wages and generous benefits for their loyalty. Now, you want more.

“We want technology to be self-sufficient. We want it to help us create that in the future,” Parish said. “But the reality is that to create the future, you must first take care of what is inside you.”

Editor’s note: Facebook, Apple and Netflix are among the latest sponsors of NPR.

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