GitHub apologizes for firing Jewish person who warned coworkers about Nazis

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Microsoft-owned GitHub admitted that “significant errors of judgment and procedure” occurred that led to the firing of a Jewish employee who warned people about Nazis. The company issued a public apology and has offered the person their job back, according to The Verge. GitHub’s head of HR, Carrie Olesen, has also resigned as part of an effort to “[take] personal accountability” for the situation.

GitHub met criticism when an employee warned coworkers about Nazis at the U.S. Capitol building. The employee stated, “stay safe homies, Nazis are about” in a Slack channel at GitHub. A coworker took offense at the word Nazi and reported the message to GitHub’s HR department. The poster of the word Nazi was later fired.

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Close to 200 GitHub employees signed an open letter asking about the situation. Additionally, people in GitHub’s Slack channels started using the word Nazi frequently following the event. The Verge shared several screenshots of GitHub’s Slack channels surrounding the incident.

GitHub’s CEO, Nat Friedman sent an internal message to employees on January 16, stating:

Yesterday evening, the investigation reached the conclusion that significant mistakes were made that are not consistent with our internal practices or the judgement we expect from our leaders.

GitHub also offered a public apology to the fired employee and is offering them their job back.

In light of these findings, we immediately reversed the decision to separate with the employee and are in communication with his representative.

To the employee we wish to say publicly: we sincerely apologize.

The public apology includes several statements on the issue that were shared internally:

  • It was appalling last week to watch a violent mob, including Nazis and white supremacists, attack the US Capitol. That these hateful ideologies were able to reach the sacred seat of our democratic republic in 2021 is sickening. The views that propelled this attack are morally abhorrent to me personally, and, I know, to our entire leadership team and company.
  • GitHub condemns the attack on the US Capitol on January 6th and any and all belief systems that are discriminatory. Antisemitism, neo-Nazis, and white supremacy – along with all other forms of racism – are vile and have no place in our community.
  • We do not and will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in any of its forms, period.
  • Employees are free to express concerns about Nazis, antisemitism, white supremacy or any other form of discrimination or harassment in internal discussions. We expect all employees to be respectful, professional, and follow GitHub policies on discrimination and harassment.

GitHub’s move came after the company hired an independent law firm to investigate the person’s termination of employment. The investigation found that “significant mistakes were made.”

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