Google Illegally Surveilled and Fired Employees for Organizing, New Complaint Alleges
‘This complaint makes clear that workers have the right to speak to issues of ethical business and the composition of management’
Google illegally surveilled and fired employees for participating in organizing efforts last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said in a complaint filed on Wednesday.
The complaint alleges that the technology giant violated labor laws after spying on, interrogating, and terminating employees Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers, both former engineers at Google’s San Francisco office.
Last November, Berland was suspended after publicly opposing Google’s stance on the use of its technology by government agencies. He was fired later that month after organizing employees against the company’s hiring of union-busting firm IRI Consultants, which Googlers learned of from their colleagues’ public calendar entries. Google claimed the accessing of calendar events was a violation of its policies.
“This complaint makes clear that workers have the right to speak to issues of ethical business and the composition of management,” Berland said in a statement. “Workers have the right to speak out about and organize, as the NLRB is affirming, but we also know that we should not, and cannot, cleave off ethical concerns about the role management wants to play in that society.”
Spiers was also fired last November, and had created a pop-up for Google employees visiting the website of IRI Consultants on the company’s internal network, reminding them of their “right to participate in protected concerted activities.” The message pointed Googlers to employees guidelines the company was required to post after a prior NLRB settlement in September. Google claimed this was a security violation. After her firing, Spiers told OneZero that she was questioned by a Google investigations team for three weeks without access to a lawyer. Spiers wrote in a Medium post that she struggled to repair her professional reputation as a result of Google’s accusations.