Mitchell had been outspoken on Twitter for months following the December exit of Timnit Gebru, which came as a shock to Mitchell and many other employees at Google. Earlier this month, Mitchell tweeted a lengthy internal memo that was heavily critical of Google which she wrote the day her Google email access was shut down.
A Google spokesperson did not dispute that Mitchell was fired when asked for comment on the matter.
“After conducting a review of this manager’s conduct, we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees,” the spokesperson said.
When reached for comment, Mitchell said: “I don’t know about those allegations actually. I mean most of that is news to me”
Mitchell’s firing will likely only add to tensions that have been brewing within the team, and the company, in the months since Gebru’s departure. And it came as the company appeared to be trying to turn the page by wrapping up an investigation into the matter and announcing policy changes.
A copy of the memo, which was obtained by CNN Business, said changes would include having HR employees review “sensitive” employee exits.
In later tweets, Gebru clarified that no one at Google explicitly told her that she was fired. Rather, she said Google would not meet a number of her conditions for returning and accepted her resignation immediately because it felt that her email reflected “behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”
In the memo on Friday, Dean said of Gebru’s contentious exit that the company “could have and should have handled this situation with more sensitivity” and that he regrets that it led to some employees questioning whether they belong at Google.
“It’s important that the Research org, along with the rest of Google, is a place where everyone feels like they belong and has the opportunity to succeed,” he wrote. He also said Google will clarify internally what its process is for publishing “sensitive” research going forward.
Dean also said the company will work to address diversity issues by “more than doubling” the staff that works on retaining Google employees. Additionally, he said Google will make diversity, equity and inclusion efforts part of the performance evaluations for Google employees at and above the vice-president level.
Croak will report to Dean. Ten teams centered around AI ethics, fairness, and accessibility — including the Ethical AI team — will report to her.