Four former Google employees claim that their ex-employer fired them Thanksgiving week in retaliation for their efforts to organize a labor union. According to CNBC, the NLRB is now investigating the firings. For its part, Google denies that anti-union animus played any roll in the firings.
We dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of our longstanding data security policies, including systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work. No one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities.
The NLRB will ultimately have the final word. Suffice it to say, however, an employer cannot terminate a pro-union employee is the employer’s anti-union animus is a substantial or motivating factor for the termination.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of an employer’s prohibited conduct when confronted with union organizing.
And my use of the idiom “tip of the iceberg” is no coincidence. In fact, T.I.P.S. is the acronym commonly associated with the categories of prohibited conduct.
- Threats: Employers cannot threaten employees, or, worse, carry out those threats against employees, because they support unions or unionizing. For example, a manager cannot tell employees he will lower their wages or demote them if they support the union. Or, in the Google example, fire employees.
- Interrogations: Employers cannot ask employees about their own, or other employees’, support of unions or unionizing. For example, management cannot ask employees if they signed a union authorization card or how they intend to vote.
- Promises: Employers cannot promise employees some reward for not supporting a union. For example, management cannot offer raises or bonus if the union loses.
- Surveillance: Employers cannot spy on union activity. For example, management cannot photograph or video record union activities or eavesdrop on employee conversations.