Google walk-outs inspired push for disability accommodation change

Fitzpatrick said that recent events spurred her decision to speak publicly about the issue. As the company responded to massive employee walkouts over its handling of sexual misconduct with salvos about inclusivity and change, she grew frustrated.

“The self-congratulatory messaging was a little overwhelming considering some of the major issues they still had not addressed, including their accommodation policy,” she said.

After she posted on Twitter, she says, she received two types of messages: Kudos from employees from a range of companies thanking her for speaking out about the issue, and warnings from her peers at Google that she could get in trouble even for posting the accommodation process.

“Inside of Google, there’s still a culture that discourages people from talking about labor issues,” she said. Fitzpatrick knows that California statutes (and Google’s own employee communications policy) protect workers who talk about their labor conditions, but doesn’t believe that enough of her coworkers realize their rights. “I think that employees should be willing to talk about them publicly so they can get feedback and find allies.”

Fitzpatrick points to an ongoing gender pay gap lawsuit against Google spearheaded by former employees Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri as an inspiring current example of a challenge to the company’s employment practices, and expects more to come.

Fitzpatrick herself is accustomed to challenging the status quo.

In 2014, she won a landmark transgender rights case after suing the city of Alberta, Canada to switch the gender on her birth certificate even though she did not have sex reassignment surgery, as was previously mandated for changes.

“When I filed my lawsuit in Alberta regarding the birth certificate issuance rules, every province in Canada had the same rules as the ones I was challenging, and people thought I was crazy for challenging something so common and universally accepted,” she said.

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