Facing a backlash for its unfair termination, GitHub has come under fire for reportedly firing a Jewish employee after he posted a message in Slack that said “stay safe homies, Nazis are about” the day of the attack on the US Capitol.
The message sparked controversy inside the company, with one colleague criticizing the man for using divisive language. Meanwhile, the HR team also condemned the employee for using the word “Nazi” in a company Slack channel. Two days later, GitHub allegedly fired him, citing vague patterns of behavior. Following the move, nearly 200 employees have signed an open letter asking for answers from the tech giant.
The company was severely criticized on Twitter for not taking into consideration both sides of the issue, given that several anti-semitic displays were made during the protest, which could have brought on the response by the ex-employee, who preferred to remain anonymous in the fear of online threats.
Reacting to the matter, roughly 200 of GitHub’s 1,700 employees have signed a letter asking executives to take a stronger stance against anti-Semitism and white supremacy. They also want to know why the employee was fired. GitHub CEO Nat Friedman told workers that “the company is actively looking into the circumstances surrounding the separation of an employee last week and will take any and all appropriate action following a thorough investigation.”
Speaking to Business Insider, the employee said he posted the message because he was concerned for his relatives and co-workers living in Washington, DC. He had family who died in the Holocaust and saw that some of the rioters were associated with neo-Nazi organizations. Furthermore, before his Slack account was deactivated, the employee expressed bewilderment at the blowback he’d received from his message. “I did not know that, as a Jew, it would be so polarizing to say this word,” he said in a Slack channel for Jewish employees. “We grew up saying [Nazi]. It was a story we told because we had to— the decimation of whole lines of ancestry were at the hands of people who went by that title.”