Google accused of illegally spying on employees before terminating them

Google said that they were confident they acted lawfully. (AP Photo)

The National Labour Relations Board, an independent agency of the United States tasked with enforcing US labour laws has accused Alphabet’s Google of illegally surveilling and grilling its several employees and then firing them for protesting against the organisation’s policies and for trying to organize a worker’s union. A complaint has been lodged against Google for ‘unlawfully’ putting workers on administrative leave or terminating them.

According to a Reuters report, the US labour regulator body alleged Google illegally applied rules to workers who participated in activist activities. The company also terminated employees alleging they accessed documents related to how the company patrols its internal forums. The complaint also says that Google has unlawfully accessed documents and meeting rooms to keep an eye on activist workers and deter them from organizing workplace unions.

Google in its defence said that they were confident they acted lawfully. According to the tech giant, the employees terminated breached information security rules of the company and the actions undertaken by the employees were an ‘unaccepted breach of trusted responsibility’ It also added that the company encouraged a culture of internal discussion and had trust on its employees and it would continue to provide information to the labour agency about its decision to fire or disciple employees.

The labour board’s complaint stemmed from a dismissal of four employees later labelled the “Thanksgiving Four” a year ago claiming they shared confidential documents and breached security code. All these employees had either organized or participated in protests or petitions against the company. The workers then went to seek a federal investigation in their termination of employment.

Google has been given time until December 16 to formally respond to the NLRB complaint.  The case that can lead to a change in company policies and reinstatement of the dismissed workers will go for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge on April 12.

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