Google union forces company to remove dead names from ID badges

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The Alphabet Workers Union launched a campaign Tuesday to push Google to allow employees to use their chosen names on ID badges. The move comes after Phares Lee, a transgender man who works at a Google data center in South Carolina and is employed by security outsourcing firm G4S, asked to have his dead name removed from his badge and was refused.

Lee came out as transgender during his first interview with G4S. “I was insured [Google] was inclusive, but when I asked about a badge on my favorite name, I was told that my badge should reflect my official name,” he said in an interview with The edge. “When I got to the scene and got the badge with my dead name, I noticed that there were a lot of people there, both cis and transgender, whose badges did not reflect their official name.”

Lee’s experience reflects a growing sense within Google’s contract workforce that TVCs (temporary, supplier, and contract employees) do not have the same rights and benefits as full-time Google employees.

in 2019, Google has ended a lengthy policy that forced employees to settle workplace disputes in private arbitration with the company. But the change didn’t extend to Google’s third-party contractors. “Contracting companies, such as G4S, are allowed to make rules for their employees that directly conflict with [Google’s] commitment to inclusion,” explains Lee.

Lee says that when he arrived at the data center, he was the only transgender security officer on site. In an effort to connect with other LGBTQ individuals, he attempted to join one of Google’s employee resources, which are designed for underrepresented communities. He says G4S management told him that these groups were a “privilege” that contractors were not entitled to.

Now the Alphabet Workers Union is circulating a petition asking Google and G4S to adopt an elected naming policy for TVCs and full-time staff. The policy aims to ensure that “publicly displayed names reflect a chosen name where it differs from their legal name; allows pronoun stickers to be placed on name badges and protects the right to privacy of dead names,” the letter said. also wants Google and G4S to allow contractors to participate in employee resource groups.

The petition currently has 165 signatures.

Neither Google nor G4S responded to a request for comment from The edge.