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Google settles over firing of workers protesting immigration cloud deal

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Google logo is seen outside of the Google Store, where visitors can try phones and other products from the company, in New York City, New York, U.S., February 10, 2022. Picture taken February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Paresh Dave

By Paresh Dave and Julia Love

(Reuters) -Alphabet Inc’s Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has settled with six current and former employees who had alleged the company unfairly stifled worker organizing, an abrupt ending to a trial that had been paused for several months, legal filings show.

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board had pursued the case on behalf of the workers and brought Google before an administrative law judge last year. Weeks of hearings were then stopped pending resolution of a dispute over whether the NLRB could force Google legal chief Kent Walker to testify.

Laurie Burgess, an attorney representing the workers, said they had grown emotionally exhausted from fighting Google. They had to weigh that against wanting to reveal additional “juicy” evidence about Project Vivian, Google’s effort to quell worker activism, she said.

“We exposed enough, and it’s time for my clients to be able to move on with their lives,” Burgess said.

The workers independently settled with Google last Wednesday, the NLRB did not object and the judge in San Francisco dismissed the case last Friday, filings show. The settlement was first reported on Monday by Vice.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. A parallel lawsuit in California state court also was dismissed.

Google and the NLRB did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case had concerned Google’s actions against workers who were among a larger group protesting the company’s cloud technology relationship with U.S. immigration authorities in 2019.

Google interrogated the workers and fired some of them, aiming to dissuade people from engaging in legally protected concerted activities, the government said.

Google denied wrongdoing, arguing that the employees it fired or suspended were accessing files they should not have and had no right to dictate with whom the company does business.

Worker activism across Silicon Valley has been on the rise for years. Hundreds of Google workers last year formed a small labor organization in hopes of better protecting their rights in future protests.

Google settles over firing of workers protesting immigration cloud deal

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