Google has settled a case with a group of Google engineers – known as the ‘Thanksgiving Four’ – who were fired in 2019 for allegedly violating company security policies after helping organize their workplace. work, according to Vice. The ongoing battle before the National Labor Relations Board would likely have forced Google to publicly reveal documents that would show how the company planned to prevent its workers from organizing.
The NLRB case began in December 2019, about a month after Google fired the four workers, who were involved in organizing petitions and protests within the company against YouTube’s hate speech policies. contracts with US customs and border enforcement and other issues. The engineers became known as the “Thanksgiving Four” because they were laid off before the holidays. Shortly after their firing, the former employees filed a complaint with the NLRB, alleging that Google retaliated against them for organizing workers, which is illegal under US federal labor laws. Attorneys from the Communications Workers of America (the parent organization of an informal union at Google called the Alphabet Workers Union) helped represent the four laid-off workers and two other engineers involved in the lawsuit.
The legal battle has been mired in disputes over whether Google should turn over documents that would show details of “Project Vivian”, an effort within the company to prevent workers from organizing. An administrative law judge ultimately suspended the trial plans because Google repeatedly filed arguments refusing to release the documents claiming they were privileged communications, so the case could not resume until some sort of resolution is found.
Google filed its final objection to the documents release order in early February. A month later, the NLRB judge dismissed the case because Google and the CWA agreed to settle. The terms of the settlement will not be made public and the four workers who were terminated will not be reinstated, according to the Vice report.
“I’m not authorized to say how much money we got in the settlement, but it’s common knowledge that Google’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker, had to sit in the hot seat and be cross-examined for his conduct during the trial,” Laurie Burgess, the attorney representing the workers, told Vice. “It is also common knowledge that Google was asked to produce 1,500 documents, including statements from Google’s director of labor law, Michael Pfyl, claiming that the union sucks and that Google’s top executives approved of the writing an anti-union editorial. We got them by the jugular.”
Google did not immediately respond to request for comment.