GitHub admits ‘significant error of judgment’ in firing employee over Capitol 'Nazi' comments

GitHub’s head of HR has resigned over the matter.

GitHub has admitted "significant errors of judgment and procedure" in the firing of a Jewish employee who made "Nazi" comments in relation to the Capitol riots. 

On January 6, as the riot entered full swing and in concern for co-workers -- as well as his family -- the employee said "stay safe homies, Nazis are about," on Slack, as reported by TechCrunch

The Verge reports that some co-workers took offense to the language and the conversation on Slack between GitHub staff escalated until the VP of engineering shut it down. 

The Microsoft-owned company fired the member of staff two days after, on January 8. The employee was told by a GitHub HR representative that the reason was a "pattern of behavior that is not conducive to company policy." 

The firing of the ex-employee, who has not been named, caused an outcry. As the sacked employee sought legal counsel, co-workers demanded to know what had prompted GitHub's decision, with many signing a letter requesting answers directly from GitHub CEO Nat Friedman. 

An internal probe into the matter was then launched on Monday, January 11, which was completed on Friday 15. 

On Sunday, GitHub Chief Operating Officer (COO) Erica Brescia said in a blog post that an "outside investigator conduct[ed] an independent investigation" and they found "significant errors of judgment and procedure."

As a result, the head of GitHub's HR department has resigned. In addition, GitHub said the decision to fire the employee has been "reversed" and the company is now in talks with his representative. 

"To the employee we wish to say publicly: we sincerely apologize," GitHub added. 

The Capitol riot led to the deaths of five people and a participant wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt is among those who have been arrested by US law enforcement. Symbols of white supremacy were also recorded at the event. 

Friedman previously branded the storming of the US Capitol as "sickening" and GitHub condemned the attack as well as "any and all belief systems that are discriminatory."

"Employees are free to express concerns about Nazis, antisemitism, white supremacy, or any other form of discrimination or harassment in internal discussions," the company says. "We expect all employees to be respectful, professional, and follow GitHub policies on discrimination and harassment. We are, and will continue to be, fiercely committed to providing both our employees and our community with a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment."

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