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Google Workers Walk Out Globally Over Handling of Sexual Harassment

Protest organizers demand updated harassment policy and a company report on sexual misconduct at the tech giant

Scores of Google employees around the world walked away from their desks on Thursday to protest what they perceive as the company’s mishandling of sexual misconduct accusations.

Hundreds of Google workers, from Tokyo to London, participated in the walkout, according to the LA Times. That number will likely rise as employees in the U.S. head to work on Thursday morning.

“Earlier this week, we let Googlers know that we are aware of the activities planned for today and that employees will have the support they need if they wish to participate,” Google chief Sundar Pichai said in a statement to TheWrap. “Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

The “Walkout For Real Change” protest comes a week after The New York Times reported Google shielded Android co-founder Andy Rubin after an employee said that he “coerced” her into having oral sex — deciding to publicly praise him and award a $90 million exit package when he left the company in 2014. A rep for Rubin disputed the report to the Times, saying  “any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual.”

Google eventually concluded that the woman’s complaint was “credible,” according to the Times. The company chose to praise Rubin when he exited — “I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Google co-founder Larry Page said in a statement at the time. The company could have fired Rubin instead, according to the Times, and paid him next to nothing.

Soon after the Times report came out last Thursday,  Pichai said in a staff email that he’s “dead serious” about workplace sexual misconduct and said the tech giant has fired 48 people in the last two years for sexual harassment.

The walkout organizers outlined several demands they expect to be met in an article for The Cut on Thursday. The demands include: “a publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report,” which includes the number of harassment claims over time; “a clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct” that is anonymous; “an end to forced arbitration” in harassment and discrimination claims from current and former staff; and “a commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity,” which included a call for “women of color at all levels of the organization.”

A rep from Google did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

You can see a few pictures of the walkout below:

And here’s a video of a protester in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where an estimated 300 Google workers briefly walked off the job on Thursday, according to the Associated Press: