The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint on Wednesday against Google that the company violated the US labor law by spying on its workers before firing them. The employees were reportedly organizing a protest against the company policies when Google fired the activists.
Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers were sacked in 2019 for being active in organizing a protest. The event that ignited the protest was Google’s decision to work with IRI Consultants, a company known for dealing with employee activism and labor unions.
Some other employees were also fired amidst all these events; however, the NLRB complaint contains only two names, Business Insider claimed.
Google had been facing worker unrest for quite some time and decided to hire IRI, a consultancy firm whose website advertises “union vulnerability assessment,” to manage employees and their organizing against the company and its policies.
Berland’s statement about Google’s hiring IRI and the complaint filed by NLRB says, “Google’s hiring of IRI is an unambiguous declaration that management will no longer tolerate worker organizing.”
He also said that: “Management and their union busting cronies wanted to send that message, and the NLRB is now sending their own message: worker organizing is protected by law.”
Spiers, who along with Berland got a briefing about the report which is not yet made public, stated, “This week the NLRB issued a complaint on my behalf. They found that I was illegally terminated for trying to help my colleagues,”
She also stated, “Colleagues and strangers believe I abused my role because of lies told by Google management while they were retaliating against me. The NLRB can order Google to reinstate me, but it cannot reverse the harm done to my credibility.”
Google, on the other side, has a different story to tell as the company said that Spiers had violated their security policies. According to The Guardian, Spiers had created a pop-up notification on the IRI Consultants website that stated, “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”
A Google spokesperson emailed a statement, stating, “We’re proud of that culture and are committed to defending it against attempts by individuals to deliberately undermine it – including by violating security policies and the internal systems.”
The statement further read, “We’ll continue to provide information to the NLRB and the administrative judge about our decision to terminate or discipline employees who abused their privileged access to internal systems, such as our security tools or colleagues’ calendars. Such actions are a serious violation of our policies and an unacceptable breach of a trusted responsibility, and we will be defending our position.”
Earlier this year, David Drummond, a controversial figure in Google and later Alphabet due to multiple relationships with his subordinates, announced he would leave the company after being part of it for around 18 years.
Featured image: Paresh Dave/Reuters