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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.” 

Go deeper

Jan 13, 2021 - Technology

Google unveils more DACA support

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Google is donating $250,000 toward applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program and is calling on Congress to prioritize immigration reform in the Biden administration, the company announced today.

What's happening: A pending U.S. District Court case in Texas will determine the constitutionality of DACA, with a ruling expected soon. President-elect Biden has said he'd introduce immigration reform immediately.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.