As Google wades through legal fight over labor issues, ex-employees accuse company of mistreatment

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  • Former Google employees filed a lawsuit this week claiming the company violated its “Don’t Be Evil” mission.
  • The new case comes as a judge in a protracted labor trial ordered Google to release scores of documents linked to an alleged anti-union effort.
  • Lawyer Laurie Burgess, representing the former employees who sued Google this week, said the latest lawsuit is “to serve as a reminder that it is still alive and kicking.”

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While the judges review the summons almost throughout the year matter In what pits Google against its employees, former employees of the company are doing their part to highlight the intense tension between the two sides.

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Three former Google employees filed a lawsuit this week accusing their former employer of terminating them for opposing the cloud deal Google signed with the Trump administration’s Customs and Border Patrol in 2019.

Rebecca Rivers, Sophie Waldman and Paul Duke claimed in the complaint that when they were hired by Google, they were asked to sign a contract that included the company’s catchphrase clause “Don’t be Evil.” The plaintiffs say Google violated the agreement, and is seeking compensation and other relief for “significant damage to reputation and ability to be profitably redeployed.”

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Google parent Alphabet has no reason to be concerned financially — the company has more than $140 billion in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet and a market cap of about $1.9 trillion. But a string of employee walkouts, potentially presenting internal battles over lawsuits related to how the company uses its artificial intelligence technology and the treatment of its employees severe stress For a company that has long prided itself on a culture of openness and inclusivity.

Last December, the US National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Google, accusing the company of illegally firing and conducting surveys in retaliation for efforts to unionize employees. Hearings have been stalled for the past few months while judges review the summons, and it is unclear when it will resume.

Lawyer Laurie Burgess, representing the former employees who sued Google this week, said the latest lawsuit is “to serve as a reminder that it is still alive and kicking.”

A Google spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

This week, Paul Bogas, a judge in the NLRB case, ordered Google to close more than 70 documents related to its communications with IRI Consultants, which describes itself as a labor relations firm. The NLRB alleged that the IRI was hired as part of Google’s anti-federal effort, dubbed “Project Vivian”, legal documents reveal.

Bogas issued a 13-page response, saying the company was “abusive” and attempted to misrepresent its classification of documents.

“My review demonstrated that the defendants made significant contemporary efforts to give the face-to-face appearance of privileged communications to this illegal, third-party, material,” Bogas wrote. “Many of these are documents, or include the development of campaign materials in which IRI provides antiunion messaging and message amplification strategies and training tailored to the respondent’s workforce and news and social media environment.”

In January, Google employees came together to create The Alphabet Workers Union, which now includes over 800 members. Although it currently represents less than 1% of the company’s total workforce, the union is proving that it intends to be assertive and proactive. It backed Google workers, employed by contracting firm Adeco, who won a battle against the firm and Google after the company backtracked on a bonus program for temporary workers in data centers.

“The union certainly strengthened people’s resolve to stand up for the fight,” told Ned McNally, a temporary worker at Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. the new York Times After winning last month.

Watch: Google delays plans to return to work in January amid Omicron


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