On March 29, The Verge reported that Yandex fired more than two dozen employees from its division in Ann Arbor (USA, Michigan), which was engaged in the development of unmanned vehicles and robotic delivery in partnership with GrubHub. The company calls the revocation of licenses the official reason for the dismissal. The Michigan Department of Transportation itself (MDOT) denies this fact. And the company presented a slightly different version of the situation to the dismissed employees, blaming the suspension of work and dismissals on the governor of the state, who was forced to ask for the revocation of licenses due to complaints about a Russian company collecting data on American roads.
Immediately after the start of the special operation, the employees of the American branch were assured that “the company has reserves, especially for foreign employees, you will be fine.” But already on March 10, Yandex informed the Ann Arbor team about the dismissals, as the governor revoked the licenses, and the insurance company broke the contract. Some employees immediately expressed doubts that the governor had anything to do with it. And after MDOT’s response, the situation became obvious.
However, it is unclear why Yandex needed to deceive its employees, because according to American law, almost all office workers are included in the category of exempt employees. These are so-called independent contractors with irregular schedules, working under an agreement (Employment At-Will), and not an indefinite employment contract, as is customary in Russia. This means that an employee can be dismissed at the request of management without any prior notice and severance payments.
Given that there are no obvious beneficiaries in the situation, it can be assumed that it developed unintentionally, against the background of anti-Russian hysteria in Western society. The Verge claims that most of the victims were Russian-speaking immigrants in ordinary positions. And if Russian labor legislation, at least formally, could still protect them in such a situation, they have practically nothing to hope for in the United States.