I was all in favor of leading the charge against Google. Unfortunately for me, I asked for advice from someone who had negotiated contracts like this. She wasn't surprised.
The GBS contractors have fewer privileges. So what? It's not unusual for different groups to be employed under different contracts with different privileges. It sucks to be GBS contractors, but you need to blame their boss, not Google. Whoever negotiated the contract on behalf of the contractor is the one who screwed up here, not Google.
It sucks to be the contract employees, but that's not Google's fault.
I can also give you an alternate explanation for why he was fired. First, there's always the chance that someone got pissed off and decided to make an example, but there's a better option: the Google Books lawsuit. This lawsuit has generated a lot publicity and other unwanted attention. How much do you want to bet that the GBS contractors have been hassled before by journalists and/or PIs hired by lawyers? I think it's almost certain that that has happened. Google might have forced the firing of this employee simply out of reflex. Now, that's a bad reason to fire someone, but on a corporate scale it's barely above stepping on a fly.
Heck, it might not even have been reflex. Someone a couple steps removed might really believe that the fired employee was also a journalist or in cahoots with lawyers.
BTW, the Google Books lawsuit might also explain the different colored badges. GBS could be the most controversial part of Google's operations, which means Google might want a quick way to identify who belongs in the group and who doesn't.
Absent a memo from someone in Google corporate, this is a non-issue. It's so ordinary that it's not even worth fact checking.