The big picture: Google's internal conflicts with employees has spilled outside the company with a labor union formally filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. If the NLRB finds merit in the case, parent company Alphabet will have to seek settlement or have its day in court.

As tensions between Google and its staff continue to mount, a labor union has filed federal labor charges against parent company Alphabet, claiming that it wrongfully terminated employees to discourage other workers from organizing union activities. The action stems from the firing of four employees back in November.

The workers claim they were terminated in retaliation for attempting to organize co-workers to advocate for better working conditions. They say that Google has been surveilling them via a Chrome browser extension and let them go after finding out they had been pulling people together for protests.

Google contends that the employees were terminated for violating company policy, specifically searching personal information on other co-workers, tracking personnel calendars, and leaking confidential information to the media. Google claims that the employees violated company policy and made other employees feel “unsafe.”

Reuters notes, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has taken up the issue with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It says that the staff members were fired “to discourage and chill employees from engaging in protected concerted and union activities.”

“Its actions are the antithesis of the freedoms and transparency it publicly touts,” said the CWA.

The union, which has about 700,000 members, has been actively trying to organize Google employees. It already represents workers at Disney, AT&T, and companies in other sectors.

The NLRB will be launching an investigation into the matter. The board has no regulatory authority, so if it finds that the complaint is valid, the CWA will have to either seek a settlement, with the NLRB acting as an arbitrator, or take the search giant to court.

Google declined to comment on the filing.

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