Google employees found they were fired after badges didn’t work

Google employees found they were fired after badges didn’t work

  • A fired Google employee saw a colleague scan his ID to get into the New York office, but the reader kept bouncing red.
  • He saw his confused colleague walk past reception only to be blocked by security and led out.
  • The rigorous ID scanning came as Google announced overnight layoffs affecting 12,000 employees.

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Google employees were notified of their layoffs by email early Friday morning — but if they didn’t check their inboxes before heading to work, they were in for a harsh surprise.

A fired Google employee, a software developer who requested anonymity so he can speak freely, told Insider he witnessed one of his colleagues repeatedly trying to scan his employee ID card to get into Google’s Chelsea office, New York, only blushing at the card reader and denying him entry.

His colleague was obviously confused, the former employee told Insider, and after his ID didn’t work, he walked past reception towards the stairs leading to the office, where he was met by a security guard who escorted him out.

The fired employee said his colleague who tried to log in “seemed a little nervous” and that it didn’t appear like he was trying to sneak in.

Another former Google employee, Zac Bowling, who worked as an engineer at Google for nearly eight years before being fired, told Insider that he’s also heard that every Google employee who has access to the New York office was obliged to scan their ID card on the day of discharge.

He found it unusual that employees had to scan their ID cards to get into the office.

“It was very clear what was going on,” he said. “We’ve never had a problem driving through doors and not knocking on your ID in the past. If you just show your ID to the person in front of you, they just hold the door open.”

Google New York

Google’s office building in Chelsea, New York, where security guards made sure employees distinguished themselves in the mornings after layoffs. Shutterstock

The former Googler, who requested anonymity, echoed the sentiment. Normally, he said, Google employees quickly show their IDs to guards in front of the elevator and are allowed to take the elevator to the desired floor. But on Friday, guards ordered him and other people entering the office to take the elevator to the second floor to scan their IDs at the front desk.

A Google spokesperson dismissed that characterization, telling Insiders that all New York employees must tap their IDs at the entrance to enter the facilities.

The former Google employee, who witnessed a colleague’s failed login attempt, also said he noticed more security personnel than usual that day. There are usually only two guards outside the elevator, he said. But on Friday he recalled seeing four or five.

Security guards also asked employees to report individually to the Mountain View, Calif., building on the morning of the layoffs, another source familiar with the matter told Insider.

12,000 employees — 6% of the company’s global workforce — have been laid off, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo to employees.

A fired software engineer told Insider that the emailed dismissal was “a slap in the face.” Another worker said she “cannot control her shaking hands” after learning she was being made redundant.

The layoffs also sent shockwaves through the company. During Google’s tense all-hands meeting Monday, employees called for “psychological safety” in the workplace and asked management if they would cut their bonuses and raises.

Google joins big tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon, which also announced this month that they will lay off thousands of their employees. In all, layoffs affected more than 55,300 employees in 2023, according to tracking site Layoffs.fyi.

Are you a current or former Google employee? Do you work at another big tech company? Do you have a tip? Contact Aaron Mok via private email at [email protected] or via Signal at 718.710.8200.

Additional reporting by Rosalie Chan.