‘Obscure religious cult’ running Google Developer Studio: Report

San Francisco, June 20 (IANS) Call it bizarre but a report citing former Google contractual employees has claimed that Google Developer Studio (GDS) is being run by an obscure religious sect that has an “inappropriate level of influence” over the work environment.

Kevin Lloyd, a contractor hired as a video producer for GDS, alleged that at least 12 members of an obscure religious cult known as ‘Fellowship of Friends’ are running the daily operations at the workplace, reports The New York Times.

Lloyd claimed that he was “wrongly fired for calling out the group’s behaviour”.

He has filed a lawsuit against Google and his contracting agency ASG, seeking damages for wrongful termination, retaliation, emotional distress, and failure to protect him against discrimination.

The religious group “believes higher consciousness can be achieved by embracing fine arts and culture” and even has a compound spanning 1,200 acres in Oregon House, California.

The report indicated that ‘Fellowship of Friends’ hold roles at Google’s company events, “working registration desks, taking photographs, playing music, providing massages and serving wine”.

Google also allegedly buys the wine served at these events from a winery run by a member of the Fellowship, the report claimed.

The company also allegedly paid for a “state-of-the-art sound system installed in the Oregon House home of one Fellowship member who worked for the team as a sound designer”.

The Google Developer Studio, a business unit of Google, is run by Peter Lubbers, a long-time member of the Fellowship of Friends.

The tech giant was yet to react to the report.

Another contractor, Erik Johanson, told the NYT that Google’s partnership with ASG enabled the GDS team to bring more Fellowship members on board, as contractors are hired “with far less scrutiny and a far less rigorous on-boarding process.”

Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA) said in a tweet that “it’s not just a salacious story, this is really about workers’ rights & TVCs (Temporary, Vendor and Contractor)”.

The union alleged that ‘Fellowship of Friends’ has a decades-long history, with well-documented allegations of sexual abuse against members (including members under 18) by the leader, forced abortions for female members, and human trafficking.

“It’s a doomsday cult rife w/serious abuse allegations,” said Alphabet Workers Union.

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