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What are you legally allowed to say at work? A group of fired Googlers could change the rules.

The National Labor Relations Board
US Customs and Border Protection
US employees’

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
the US National Labor Relations Board

Paul Duke
Rebecca Rivers
Sophie Waldman —
Shirin Ghaffary
Sergey Brin
Sundar Pichai
Peter Ohr
Wilma Liebman
Peter Robb
Laurence Berland
Kathryn Spiers



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San Francisco
San Francisco’s

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The New York Times
Write a review: Recode

Those former employees say the company retaliated against them for protesting its work with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).Now that these workers have been added to the complaint, which will be heard before an administrative judge in August, the outcome of the case could result in a shift in what employees can talk about at work without fear of repercussions from their employer.The NLRB first filed its complaint against Google in December 2020, saying the company was “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees” who were exercising their legal rights to discuss workplace issues with their colleagues, including firing two employees. They drafted a petition demanding that Google pledge not to work with CBP or other immigration agencies, such as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stating it’s “unconscionable that Google, or any other tech company, would support agencies engaged in caging and torturing vulnerable people.” Nearly 1,500 Google employees eventually signed the petition.One of the fired workers in the complaint, Paul Duke, told Recode he started organizing with his coworkers because he didn’t want his work to “exploit, deport, or disrupt” immigrant communities, which were “under attack.” CBP, the agency Google was providing software to, was responsible for executing controversial immigration policies to detain children and separate families at the US-Mexico border.“Engineering is about making things possible, making things easier. Employees leading the petition against Google’s work with CBP also said they were organizing on behalf of the many immigrants who work at Google and were directly impacted by Trump’s immigration policies.Under President Trump’s leadership, the NLRB’s former top lawyer initially dismissed the claims of Duke, Rivers, and Waldman because he found it outside the scope of protected worker organizing. As Ohr has recently stated in a public memo, he believes that, in some cases, employees’ “political and social justice advocacy” can be protected under the law — even if it’s not “explicitly connected” to workplace concerns — if that advocacy has a “direct nexus to employees’ ‘interests as employees.’” The Google workers’ cases are “novel” according to former NLRB chair under the Obama administration, Wilma Liebman, because they could expand the interpretation of what’s considered legally protected worker organizing under what’s called “mutual aid and protection” of other employees.“There is no question I think that this case is going to push the contours of what existing precedent would consider,” said Liebman.But while workers are arguing that they should have a say in company matters, Liebman said, companies like Google can also argue that they have the ultimate authority over important business decisions. Google has denied that it retaliated against employees for drafting the protest letter against CBP, but instead has said that it fired employees for violating data policies, including leaking sensitive documents to the press.“Our thorough investigation found the individuals were involved in systematic searches for other employees’ materials and work, including distributing confidential business and client information,” a Google spokesperson said in part, in a statement in response to the complaint.The fired workers have said the information they found wasn’t confidential but publicly accessible to any of Google’s more than 100,000 employees, and that they only shared the information internally at the company.

As said here by Shirin Ghaffary