Did Google engage in anti-union actions that constitute employment law violations this Thanksgiving? The United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently begun an investigation into the tech industry giant to find out.
Why is Google Being Accused of Union Busting?
The week of Thanksgiving marked the end of four Google employees’ careers. Google insists the employees repeatedly violated company data security policies by “systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work” without permission. The four employees, however, say they were actually terminated for conducting union-like activities and exercising their free speech rights to criticize their own employer.
Two Google employees – Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland – were placed on permanent administrative leave in November after Google first accused them of accessing and mishandling sensitive internal information. In response, Berland and Rivers gathered hundreds of Google employees on the streets of San Francisco to publicly decry the company. It was only after the public rally did Google officially terminate Berland, Rivers, and two other employees.
The tech giant did not change its explanation from anything other than firing the employees for repeated data handling violations. If you ask the employees, though, the true reason for firing them is related to their public display. It is now up to the NLRB to determine the truth of the matter through its investigation.
Not Google’s First NLRB Run-In
Only a few months before the Thanksgiving union busting accusations started to fly, Google had reached a settlement with the NLRB stemming from separate complaints against the company. In 2018, an employee said he was fired because he was conservative, alleging the company only staffed politically liberal individuals. After an NLRB investigation, Google agreed to post updated lists of employee rights in its headquarters, including clear statements explaining an employee’s right to organize without fear of retaliation. Since the settlement was made voluntarily, Google did not have to admit to any wrongdoing in that case.
The current Thanksgiving anti-union investigation could shine more light on Google’s alleged employment violations since it shares a thread with the previous NLRB investigation. On the other hand, the NLRB’s findings could exonerate the tech giant by finding no evidence of wrongdoing.
This story is still developing. You can learn more about it by clicking here and viewing a full article from CNBC. You should also check the blog of Polaris Law Group for any critical updates as they come. With our law firm’s 25+ years of California employment law case experience, we use our insight to report on developing employment law stories in order to keep our clients in-the-know.
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