Github apologises for firing Jewish employee who warned about 'Nazis'

Daniel Fowler
January 20, 2021

The warning sparked criticism from a colleague who took offense at the use of the word "Nazi" and prompted GitHub's HR team to reprimand the Jewish employee.

GitHub admitted on Sunday that it made "significant errors of judgement" when it fired an employee who suggested that "Nazis" were among the Capitol rioters.

GitHub, which is based in San Francisco, fired the unnamed employee on January 8 but later engaged an outside investigator to conduct a probe after other employees complained about the action.

According to TechCrunch, by "pattern of behavior that is not conducive to company policy", HR was referring to the fired employee's complaints about the lack of diversity at the leadership level at GitHub.

An internal GitHub investigation revealed that the company made "serious errors of judgment and procedures" in expelling the Jewish employee who warned his co-workers about the presence of the Nazis in the metropolitan area on the day of the revolt at the US Capitol.

In the post, GitHub COO Erica Brescia said: "To the employee we wish to say publicly: we sincerely apologize".

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"I did not know that, as a Jew, it would be so polarizing to say this word", said the unnamed employee in a Slack message to fellow Jewish employees during a disciplinary meeting, shown to Business Insider. GitHub CEO Nat Friedman said Monday that the company "will take any and all appropriate action following a thorough investigation", in an internal memo viewed by Insider. The worker was sacked from the Microsoft subsidiary on January 8, two days after he posted a message on Slack directed to DC-area colleagues during the unrest that read "stay safe homies, Nazis are about", the Guardian reports.

200 GitHub employees, which is over 10% of the company's workforce, co-singed a letter pushing executives to be clearer in their stance against white supremacy. During that interview, he said that he would not be interested in getting his job back, but that he would be interested in other forms of reconciliation.

On Wednesday, FBI spokeswoman Christina Pauline said in a statement that a man was photographed in the riots wearing a "Auschwitz camp" shirt.

In Sunday's blog post, GitHub reiterated some statements it had previously issued condemning the violence at the Capitol.

In his note to employees this weekend, Friedman stressed that employees (which the company calls "hubbers") are allowed to talk about their fears regarding white supremacists. With this law firm also defecting the company, an offer was made for the employee to return to work.

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