Google wrongly claimed attorney-client privilege to protect documents subpoenaed in a National Labor Relations Board case filed by former employees who say the company fired them because of their unionization efforts, a labor judge has ruled.
The administrative law judge, Paul Bogas, whom the N.L.R.B. appointed as a special master to review the documents, said in a report on Friday that “this broad assertion is, to put it charitably, an overreach.”
The ruling is the latest legal blow to Google’s defense against a complaint, brought by the labor agency in December 2020, that said the company illegally fired and surveilled employees who were involved in labor organizing.
Judge Bogas ruled in November that Google had improperly characterized 71 of 80 documents sought by the former employees as privileged. The latest report covers around 200 additional documents pertaining to communications around Google’s hiring of IRI Consultants, a firm known for its anti-union work, as part of Project Vivian, an effort to fight labor organizing at the company.
Google must hand over nearly all of those 200 documents, Judge Bogas ruled. He also ordered the company to produce for his review more than 1,000 additional documents that it logged as privileged.
Google’s argument that it had the right to withhold the documents was not “persuasive,” Judge Bogas said, because IRI assisted Google with messaging that did not include legal advice.
In one document that the judge said did not…