Workplace

'Ungoogley' behavior: Google contractor says she was fired for asking about holiday pay

According to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, "ungoogley" is Google's term for having a bad attitude.

The exterior of a Google office in London

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job after asking about pay.

Photo: Future Publishing/Getty Images

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job for "ungoogley" behavior after asking about holiday pay at a meeting with management, according to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a lawyer for the Alphabet Workers Union.

Tuesday Carne said in an interview with Protocol that she was fired after just nine days of working in the data contracting facility in South Carolina. Carne's termination letter (which Protocol reviewed) called her behavior at the meeting "unacceptable and 'ungoogley'" and claimed that her behavior was the reason for her firing.

Modis Engineering faced a similar charge from former Google contractor Shannon Wait, who was terminated after posting on Facebook about pay and working conditions at a South Carolina data center in February. Modis almost immediately gave Wait her job back and was forced to settle the charges in April, agreeing to post large signs in the Berkeley County facility where she worked that said workers have the right to ask questions about and discuss pay and working conditions. Google relies heavily on temporary, vending or contract staff (TVCs) to fill positions in its data centers and has long received criticism from those workers, who feel as if they are treated like second-class Google citizens.

Carne said that she asked about holiday pay during the first meeting between staffers and management that she had attended since arriving at the company just over a week before, and that she asked questions about a Modis policy that prohibits workers from receiving holiday pay who have worked less than 1000 hours in the 26 weeks before the holiday. She said that she expressed her frustration that the policy made her ineligible to receive holiday pay because she had just recently arrived at the company, but that no one during or after the meeting told her that her questions were inappropriate.

Later that day, after receiving two calls from a number she suspected was her manager (she did not pick up because she had signed off of work), she received an email from a Modis manager that began: "I have been unable to reach you by phone to discuss your contract with Modis. After careful discussion and consideration with site managers, it was deemed that your behavior in today's meeting was unacceptable and 'ungoogley', and we're asked to sever your contract effective immediately."

Carne immediately contacted the Alphabet Workers Union, which filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company on the grounds that workers are legally protected from retaliation for discussing pay and working conditions in or about the workplace.

"The biggest heartbreak to me was that I was 100% committed. I came 700 miles for this job, I was intending to work as much time as I could. You would think, if I was acting inappropriately at my first meeting, they would have pulled me to the side and said, 'Here look, this is inappropriate behavior in our eyes,' and they didn't," she said. "I just want to get my job back, honestly.”

Google and Modis Engineering did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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