Fifth former Google employee alleges she was improperly fired for union organizing
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A fifth former Google employee has filed a complaint alleging her firing was retaliation for labor organizing within the company, she said in a Wednesday Medium post.

Kathryn Spiers wrote in the post that while working as an engineer at the tech giant, she created a popup notification that activated when coworkers visited the website of a consulting firm she said the company hired to stymie union organizing. The popup read, “Googlers have the right to participate in protected concerted activities.”

In response, Spiers writes, she was suspended the week of Thanksgiving, the same day the company fired four other workers who also said they were fired for organizing activity. Spiers writes she was then subjected to three “extremely aggressive and illegal” interrogations about her organizing work.


She was fired last Friday and told that she had violated the company’s security policies. Spiers claims she asked how she had violated the policies but received no answer.

Spiers notes that in her two years at the company, she received two four-star performance reviews and one five-star review, as well as a promotion following the five-star rating.

“What I did is entirely consistent with Google’s mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful,” Spiers writes.

“I changed code as part of my job, which was part of a long track record of excellent work that I did for the company. Google is resorting to firing those of us who organize and assert our collective voice because it is afraid,” she adds.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has opened an investigation into Google's labor practices following the firing in response to a claim filed Dec. 5 by the Communication Workers of America. Earlier this year, the company settled with the NLRB over allegations it suppressed employee speech.

Royal Hansen, the vice president of technical infrastructure security & privacy, said in an email provided to The Hill that Spiers "misused a security and privacy tool to create a pop-up that was neither about security nor privacy. She did that without authorization from her team or the Security and Privacy Policy Notifier team, and without a business justification. And she used an emergency rapid push to do it."

"I want to be very clear: the issue was not that the messaging had to do with the NLRB notice or workers' rights. The decision would have been the same had the pop-up message been on any other subject," Hansen said.

Updated at 10:44 a.m.