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The National Labor Relations Boards Says Google Spied on Employees

Google illegally fired two employees after spying on their union forming activities, according to a complaint filed by the National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) seeking a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The NLRB complaint alleges that Google violated federal labor laws by surveilling Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers during their employment. Berland tried to organize workers in response to Google’s decision to work with a particular anti-union company; Google allegedly fired him for reviewing other employees’ calendars. The NLRB found that Google’s internal policy against employees looking at their coworkers’ calendars was unlawful. Google fired Spiers after she created a pop-up for Google employees visiting the website of this same particular company; Google asserted Speirs violated its security policies. The NLRB held Speirs’ firing was unlawful as well. According to the NLRB, Google's actions violated the National Labor Relations Act provision that precludes employers from “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights” to unionize and work together to improve working conditions.”

An administrative law judge will decide the two cases. Should the judge find for the former employees, Google may be liable for back wages and could be required to rehire both individuals. Google issued a statement in response to the NLRB filing, stating that it is “confident in [its] decision and legal position.” Google continues to maintain that the two employees violated company policies and committed unacceptable breaches of security.