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Google engineer who was laid off while on mental health leave says she 'silently mourned' after receiving her severance email at 2 a.m.

By Kate Duffy,

2023-01-31

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
  • A Google engineer said she found out she was laid off at 2 a.m. while on mental health leave.
  • Ali Neil said she called a friend, drank some whiskey, and "mourned" the layoff until the morning.
  • Google won't let her drop off her work laptop and other devices at the office, Neil said.

A laid-off Google engineer said she "silently mourned" after receiving her severance email at 2 a.m. while on mental health leave.

Ali Neil, who started working at Google in 2020, told Insider she had been on mental health leave for just over three months when she discovered the tech giant had laid her off.

Neil, 29, was reading her Kindle before bed when she decided to check her emails and saw the notice of employment from Google at 2 a.m. She immediately called a friend to tell them the news, which she said felt like a "personal attack."

"I got a glass of whiskey and had a little toast to myself," Neil said, adding she couldn't fall asleep and "silently mourned it until the morning."

Following the employment notice, she was logged out of her work laptop, emails, and corporate documents, leaving her with few ways to contact her manager and coworkers, Neil said.

Insider has seen a copy of Neil's severance email.

Neil was among the roughly 12,000 employees that Google announced would be laid off from its global workforce. The layoffs followed job cuts announced by Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, and other big tech firms in recent months.

It was 'un-Googley'

Neil said she had an inclination that layoffs were coming but assumed she would be safe because she was already on leave.

According to Neil, she "bled for Google." She said she met and exceeded performance expectations, while also enjoying her job.

Google felt like a safe and stable environment, where the risk of being laid off was very low, Neil said. She described the layoff process as "un-Googley" and done without care.

"Now I'm left here having to find a job for the first time in years after being on mental health leave in quite possibly one of the most difficult hiring situations and housing markets," Neil said.

Google won't allow Neil to go back to her office to drop off her work laptop and other devices, she said. The company has told her to meet security somewhere near the office, or ship the items in a box, she added.

It comes as some Google workers, who didn't realize they'd been laid off, turned up to the office but couldn't badge in, Insider reported.

Google didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal US operating hours.

A company spokesperson previously referred Insider to CEO Sundar Pichai's blog post announcing the layoffs, saying it was "all we have to share at this time."

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