NLRB opens investigation into Google's labor practices after firing of four employees

NLRB opens investigation into Google's labor practices after firing of four employees

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has opened an investigation into Google's labor practices in the wake of the tech giant's decision to fire four longtime employees involved in worker activism last month, an agency official confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

The watchdog initiated the investigation in response to a charge brought by the Communication Workers of America on Dec. 5.

The union claims that Laurence Berland, who spent 11 years at Google; Paul Duke, who was with the company for more than eight years; Rebecca Rivers, an employee of four years; and Sophie Waldman, who spent one year and 10 months at Google, were fired in direct response to their labor organizing efforts.

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“In response, Google unlawfully promulgated and enforced new data classification policies, data protection policies, data protection guidelines, 'community guidelines' and codes of conduct; initiated investigations against the four above named employee leaders based upon retroactive application of such guidelines; interrogated them; and discharged them on November 25, 2019 within minutes of each other,” the charge reads.

An official for Google said in a statement to The Hill that no one was "dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities."

The four employees were fired for "intentional and often repeated violations of our longstanding data security policies, including systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work," the statement read.

This is the not the first time Google has been under investigation by the NLRB.

The company earlier this year settled with the board over allegations that it prevented its employees from speaking out in the workplace. 

Under the settlement, Google has posted notices reminding workers of their rights in its internal messaging boards.