Labor Board alleges Google spied on workers who organized protests, fired two of them

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A federal agency is accusing Google of spying on and then firing two employees who organized protests against the company.

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The National Labor Relations Board alleged that the employees – Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers — were fired after engaging in worker protests against Google’s treatment of employees. Google's decision to work with IRI Consultants, which has engaged in anti-union efforts in the past and the tech giant's contracts with certain military contractors, were also protested by employees.

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Google said it terminated Berland for looking at other employee's calenders, thus violating company policies, but NLRB claims the rule itself is unlawful.

Meanwhile, Spiers was fired after she created an alert for Google employees to see every time they visited the IRI Consultants site, which read “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities,” according to The Guardian.

"Google has always worked to support a culture of internal discussion, and we place immense trust in our employees. Of course, employees have protected labor rights that we strongly support, but we have always taken information security very seriously," the company said in a statement to Axios. "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.”

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Google has been wracked by complaints from workers in recent years who are unhappy with the shifting culture.

Google hired IRI in 2019 after worker unrest swept over the company and more than 20,000 employees walked off the job to express discontent over issues of sexual harassment and other company policies.

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