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Google settles with employees fired over immigration cloud deal protest

Alphabet Inc’s Google has settled with six current and former employees who had alleged the company unfairly stifled worker organizing in a case stemming from potential sales of its cloud technology to U.S. immigration authorities — an abrupt ending to a trial that had been paused for several months.

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, legal 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.

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

The company 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.

Google said on Monday it was pleased everyone avoided years of legal proceedings.

“We’ve always supported our employees’ right to speak about working conditions, and we stand by our policies that protect the security of our systems and safeguard user, customer and employee data,” Google said.

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. Nasdaq

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