Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint alleging Google spied on two of its workers before firing them in violation of U.S. labor law.
Google surveilled employees viewing a slide presentation supporting union organizing, interrogated employees, and unfairly applied rules to discourage employees from union activities, the complaint filed Wednesday alleged.
The company's calendar event rule also prohibited employees from creating calendar events with more than 100 invitees to discourage employees from union activities, the NLRB, an independent federal agency that protects private-sector employees' right to organize, said in the complaint.
The NLRB had been investigating Google, which is owned by Alphabet, since the tech giant fired four workers last year during the week of Thanksgiving, citing violations of data security policies. The NLRB argued they were illegally fired for labor organizing.
Google placed Berland on administrative leave for accessing calendar documents. Berland was organizing against the tech giant working with IRI Consultants, known for its anti-union efforts, at the time, The Verge reported.
"Google's hiring of IRI is an unambiguous declaration that management will no longer tolerate worker organizing," Berland said in a statement. "Management and their union busting cronies wanted to send that message, and the NLRB is now sending their own message: worker organizing is protected by law."
Spiers was fired in late 2019 after writing code for a pop-up featuring an NLRB notice with the company similarly saying that she had violated security policies, which she said hurt her reputation.
"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."
If Google does not agree to settle, the NLRB will take the complaint to an administrative law judge in coming months, The New York Times reported. And if the judge ultimately rules in favor of the workers, Google could be forced to rehire them and commit to back pay for the time they were fired.
"We'll continue to provide information to the NLRB and the administrative judge about our decision to terminate or discipline employees who abused their privileged access to internal systems, such as our security tools or colleagues' calendars," a Google spokesperson told The Verge. "Such actions are a serious violation of our policies and an unacceptable breach of a trusted responsibility, and we will be defending our position."