Noah Berger / AP
Google illegally fired two employees involved in organizing the work last year, the National Employment Council said in a complaint on Wednesday.
The tech giant has also violated federal labor law, the agency said, surveying employees who watched union presentations, questioned others, unfairly enforced certain rules and maintained policies that “discouraged” workers from protected organizing activities.
The complaint alleges that Google’s actions constituted “interference, restriction and coercion of employees to exercise the rights guaranteed” by the National Labor Relations Act, the 1935 Act, which guarantees workers the right to unite and unite. to improve their working conditions.
Google is “confident in our decision and legal position,” the company said in a statement. While the company supports workers’ protected labor rights, the employees in question have taken actions that are “a serious breach of our policies and an unacceptable breach of trusted responsibility,” it said.
Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., has been rocked by employee activism in recent years on issues including sexual harassment, its dealings with the U.S. government, and the company’s attitude toward the large contract workforce.
The Federal Labor Agency has been investigating Google for a year after several employees fired in late 2019 filed allegations of unfair work practices. The complaint on Wednesday accused Google of violating the rights of two of these employees, Lawrence Berland and Catherine Spiers.
Berland was one of four employees fired days before Thanksgiving 2019 for what Google described at the time as data security breaches, including accessing and sharing information from other employees’ work materials and calendars.
Spiers was fired shortly afterwards. After the company hired a consulting firm known for its anti-union work, Spiers created a pop-up notice reminding Google employees of their right to organize. Google said Spears was fired for abusing her access to internal tools.
“With this complaint, it is clear that workers have the right to speak on issues of ethical business and management composition,” Berland said in a statement Wednesday.
If Google does not settle the complaint, the agency’s case will be brought before an administrative judge, who may order the company to recover Berland and Spiers and refund them with interest and stock options to make them purposeful.
“Colleagues and strangers believe I abused my role because of lies told by Google’s management while they were taking revenge on me,” Spears said in a statement. “NLRB can order Google to recover me, but it can’t reverse the damage to my trust.”
The agency’s complaint does not include allegations of the dismissal of the other three employees fired at the same time as Berland, who also filed charges with the NLRB. They protested against Google’s work with customs and border protection and the hiring of a former Trump administration official, according to Lori Burgess, an employee lawyer.
Burgess said in a statement that officials intend to “vigorously appeal the rejected allegations to the NRRB to ensure that the right to engage in this type of protected activity is not affected.”
Editor’s note: Google is among the financial supporters of NPR.