• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

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Google Settles With Six Employees Who Worked on Unionization Efforts

Google has agreed to settle a National Labor Relations Board case filed by six former and current employees who said the company had illegally fired or disciplined them because of their unionization efforts.

As part of the settlement, which was agreed upon on Friday, the former and current Google employees also agreed to dismiss a related court case in California. The settlement terms are bound by a nondisclosure agreement, said Laurie M. Burgess, a lawyer representing the former and current employees.

The settlement was reached after a ruling in the labor board case forced Google to hand over more documents. The complaint, which the labor agency brought in December 2020, said the search giant had illegally dismissed or disciplined and surveilled employees who were active in labor organizing.

Google has repeatedly said that its actions had nothing to do with trying to combat unionization efforts and that the employees breached security protocols. A spokeswoman said on Monday that it was “pleased for all sides to avoid years of legal proceedings.”

“We’ve always supported our employees’ right to speak about working conditions, and we stand by our policies that protect the security of our systems,” the spokeswoman added.

Ms. Burgess said the settlement was not a loss. Her clients had devoted two years to fighting Google and needed to move on with their lives, she said.

“My clients moved that process of exposing the underbelly of what Google has been doing in terms of trying to quell union and organizing activities farther than anyone else,” Ms. Burgess said.

The case brought to light Google’s extensive efforts to fend off a nascent unionization push. In documents pertaining to Google’s hiring of IRI Consultants, a firm known for its anti-union work, a Google lawyer said he wanted the consultants to help convince employees that “unions suck.”

In January, an administrative law judge ordered Google to hand over even more documents, which the company had withheld citing attorney-client privilege. In addition, Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal officer, was scheduled to testify in the N.L.R.B. trial.

Four of the people who brought the case were dismissed by the company, and two others were disciplined but not dismissed. One of those two remains at Google. As part of the settlement, the four fired employees waived their requests to be reinstated.