Google allegedly spied on employees before firing them, per U.S. labor board

David Matthews

Posts: 402   +78
Staff member
What just happened? It's been a rough couple of years for Google regarding the relationship with its workers. In this latest development, the National Labor Relations Board is preparing to file a complaint against Google for spying on employees engaged in union activities.

Google unlawfully spied on employees engaged in organizing before firing them according to the United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The board is readying a complaint after finding that Google violated multiple labor laws. The complaint further goes on to ask Google to reinstate two employees, Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers.

The NLRB's complaint is a follow on from last December when the Communications Workers of America filed federal labor charges against Google's parent company Alphabet. The charges claim wrongful termination of employees in order to discourage organizing.

Spiers and Berland were terminated last year because of their actions related to Google's hiring of the anti-union IRI Consultants. Spiers created a browser pop-up notification that activated when Google employees visited IRI's website. The pop-up stated that "Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities." Google subsequently fired Spiers for violating security policies while Berland was fired for "repeated violations" of data-security policies related to him looking at other employees' calendars.

The NLRB found that Google's policy against looking at coworkers' calendars was illegal. Additionally, the termination of Spiers was found equally unlawful.

“This week the NLRB issued a complaint on my behalf. They found that I was illegally terminated for trying to help my colleagues,” Spiers said. “Colleagues and strangers believe I abused my role because of lies told by Google management while they were retaliating against me. The NLRB can order Google to reinstate me, but it cannot reverse the harm done to my credibility.”

Tensions between Google and their employees have been growing over the last few years. In 2017, former Googlers filed a class-action lawsuit alleging gender bias in pay and career growth. The following year, Google faced massive internal backlash regarding its involvement in "Project Maven," a partnership with the U.S. military to analyze drone surveillance footage. The company also dealt with opposition to Project Dragonfly, a censored search engine built for the Chinese government.

The NLRB doesn't have any punitive authority but is set to go before an administrative law judge in the coming months. Google responded to the NLRB's complaint telling The Verge:

"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. 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."

Permalink to story.

 

psycros

Posts: 3,277   +3,612
Gotta love big companies trying to play all sides. Their progressive on the streets but monopolies in the sheets. Does anyone seriously think they give a damn about all the SJW garbage? Of course not. They only want two kinds of employees - the best and the cheapest, and if they can get a combo deal from Asia they'll do almost anything to get them into the country. Big Tech imports men from most racist, sexist cultures on Earth and will use any tool to prevent the workers from gaining any sort of leverage. Women are just like blacks in big tech: both are mostly window dressing because they rarely possess either the education or temperament for the job. Even the merest whiff of union talk will bring instant retribution.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
Spiers created a browser pop-up notification that activated when Google employees visited IRI's website....
And (I assume from context) installed this without permission on the company computers of other employees? If so, that's rather clear grounds for termination.

If they manage to get Google to reinstate them it doesn't mean Google won't just fire them for some other bogus reason.
Actually, if the NRLB wins the suit to reinstate these two employees, they can come to work stark naked and set the office on fire with napalm, without getting fired again.
 

kimo1

Posts: 180   +295
employees engaged in union activities
Have to root out this evil called "union" as it doesn't allow full dedication to Satan.
It's so very hard to convince worker class to open their eyes and stop using evil products, services. Very hard. As history shows, only after a lot of workers have died, the latter will start considering better options.
Things that can be prevented, the stupid people refuse to prevent as primitive desires, the 7 deadly sins, need constant love. So they prefer to be part of evil until evil starts killing the fools. How pathetic.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,797   +6,450
Just ANOTHER good reason for the DOJ to investigate and prosecute but this time let's make MANDATORY prison time from the top down with no consideration for "we didn't know" or any other lame excuse ......
 
  • Like
Reactions: Paultimate

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
Just ANOTHER good reason for the DOJ to investigate and prosecute but this time let's make MANDATORY prison time from the top down.....
That wins the most asinine remark of the day award. First of all, no criminal statute has been violated or even alleged to have been violated. Secondly, of the civil violation, Google has not been found guilty, nor even had a chance to present their defense. And yet you've already convicted them and passed sentence.

Did one of your ancestors work the Salem Witch Trials, by chance?
 

jpuroila

Posts: 270   +152
That wins the most asinine remark of the day award. First of all, no criminal statute has been violated or even alleged to have been violated. Secondly, of the civil violation, Google has not been found guilty, nor even had a chance to present their defense. And yet you've already convicted them and passed sentence.

Did one of your ancestors work the Salem Witch Trials, by chance?
Let's face it, with all the other illegal and immoral things Google is doing and has done in the past, they really don't deserve any benefit of doubt.
 

candle_86

Posts: 645   +571
I agree with google, unions raise prices, lower productivity, and in general award time with a company instead of actual work, you no longer need to be good at your job under a union, just good enough to wait out 20 years and be guranteed retirement, look at factory and auto workers, they do the minimum to not get fired, and can't be fired, and you can't hire someone that is better at the job and give them a promotion because they do 3x the work of the guy that's been their 10 years because unions.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 638   +731
TechSpot Elite
If this doesn't show you why corporations are terrible things, nothing will. The problem is compounded by the fact that Governments have been slowly eroding workers' rights to organise and haven't been willing to take on companies like this because lobbying and corruption have become essentially the same thing.

Lobbying has become the most popular "sport" in cities like Washington DC, Sacramento, Olympia, Austin, Albany, Tallahassee, Boston and Springfield. It has now gotten so bad that even a chunk of the general populace, the ones who stand to lose the most from this, support the terrible actions of these corporations.

"We the people" should be re-written as "We the incorporated multinationals" because that gives a much more accurate reflection of today's reality.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
If this doesn't show you why corporations are terrible things, nothing will.
You make it sound as if they installed wiretaps in these employees' bedrooms. What did Google do -- or rather, what are they accused of doing? They looked at a Google-owned calendar application, running on Google-owned work computers, with data input by Google employees on Google-company time.

That's right up there with roasting live babies for breakfast, isn't it?
 

Paultimate

Posts: 29   +14
You want to get broken up into smaller companies, Google? Because this is how you do it. Ask AT&T what a shitshow that was for 30 years.