Dec 2, 2020 - Technology

U.S. labor board says Google spied on, illegally fired workers

Google broke U.S. law by spying on workers who had organized protests and firing two of them in retaliation, the National Labor Relations Board alleges in a complaint filed Wednesday, according to the Worker Agency, an advocacy group representing labor campaigns.

Why it matters: The complaint is a major rebuff to practices at Google, a behemoth that's seen its share of worker discontent over its contracts and internal policies.

Background: Two Google workers, Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers, were fired last year amid worker protests over some of Google's military contracts and treatment of employees.

  • The NLRB complaint alleges that Google unlawfully surveilled, suspended and interrogated workers for organizing.
  • The NLRB did not find that Berland or Spiers broke any company rules.
  • Google worked with IRI Consultants, a union-busting firm, as worker organizing was bubbling up last year.

The other side: “Google has always worked to support a culture of internal discussion, and we place immense trust in our employees," a Google spokesperson said. "Of course employees have protected labor rights that we strongly support, but we have always taken information security very seriously."

  • "We’re confident in our decision and legal position. Actions undertaken by the employees at issue were a serious violation of our policies and an unacceptable breach of a trusted responsibility.” 
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