The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against California-based tech giant, Google, and its parent company Alphabet. The tech company was accused of going against labor laws by illegally spying on their workers and firing employees who tried to protect the interests of themselves and their colleagues. The NLRB stated that Google had been spying on its workers through apps such as calendars, email, and meeting rooms as well as MemeGen, a communication tool used in the company.
According to the NLRB complaint filed on Tuesday, Google “interacted with, restrained, and coerced workers who were trying to exercise their rights that are stipulated in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act”.
The complaint also stated that Google has been blocking union activities among its workers and retaliating against those involved in trying to get other workers to speak up by terminating their appointments. According to the board, Google must give a response to the allegations against it on or before December 16. The board has also scheduled a hearing for the case for the second Monday of April 2021.
“We staunchly acknowledge and support our employees’ rights to have open and respectful debates and discussions,” Google’s representative stated in an email. “It has always been a part of our culture which we deem to be sacred, and we will defend it against individuals who have violated internal security policies and systems and are trying to blemish our sacred culture.”
The company has also stated that it will not stop providing the NLRB with details of termination and discipline of its workers. NLRB has been investigating Google’s labor practices since November 2019 when Google fired about four employees for reportedly “giving out operational information” that they had no permission to give. The four workers included Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland who allegedly gave out confidential documents, but they filed a complaint with the labor board which then started the investigations.
Kathryn Spiers, a security engineer was also terminated for creating a pop-up notification for Google employees after Google hired IRI consultants which are infamous for its anti-union policies. Spiers said that the company’s intention to work with IRI showed that it was trying to stop unionism among its workers. After he was fired, Spiers also filed a complaint with the NLRB. The NLRB joined Spiers complaint and the previous one in Tuesday’s complaint.
Google, according to the complaint, had curbed the activities of their workers and stopped them from sharing their objections to its policies by spying on them without permission. The tech giant also viewed a worker’s presentation advocating for the support of unionism. The complaint added that during a global investigation meeting held in San Francisco, Google had questioned its workers about their union activities.