Google is finally ending forced arbitration for its employees. These changes will go into effect for both current and future Google employees on March 21.Google is finally ending forced arbitration for its employees. These changes will go into effect for both current and future Google employees on March 21.
The company confirmed to CNN Business that it will no longer require current or future employees to handle complaints against the company through an arbitration forum, instead of going to court.
For the contractors Google works with directly, it will remove mandatory arbitration from their contracts. The caveat, however, is that it won’t require outside firms that employ contractors to do the same. Still, Google says it will notify suppliers so that they can see if that approach would work for them.
Forcing workers into arbitration over workplace misconduct and other claims is an employment practice that’s been gaining more attention in the #metoo era. The agreements, which are often signed as a condition of employment, make it so an employee can’t sue the company or participate in class action lawsuits against it. Complaints are instead brought through arbitration, a sort of alternative legal system, with the company.
The change will end Google’s policy of forcing employees to litigate such disputes in arbitration, where hearings are typically closed and the arbitrators are paid for by the company. Critics say arbitration allows sexual harassers to prey on multiple victims because of the secrecy.
The news follows a November announcement that Google would no longer force employees with sexual assault or harassment claims into arbitration.
Companies are getting rid of the arbitration procedure for sexual harassment
Other companies like Uber, Lyft and Facebook have similarly gotten rid of the practice for sexual assault and harassment claims.
The initial policy update did not apply to all discrimination claims as the new one does. Axios was first to report the news of the policy change on Thursday, 19th of February.
The elimination of forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases is one of several sweeping changes Google employees called for with coordinated protests at Google offices around the globe on November 1 over the company’s handling of sexual harassment.
Google and sexual harassment cases
These new regulations have been filed following the massive, 20.000 person walkout at Google in November, Google got rid of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, offering more transparency around those investigations and more.
Since getting rid of forced arbitration for cases relating to sexual harassment and assault, Google said it has been exploring the issue and ultimately decided on implementing a blanket change.
The demonstrations, dubbed the Google Walkout, came in the wake of a New York Times investigation that detailed years of sexual harassment allegations, multimillion-dollar severance packages for accused executives, and a lack of transparency over the cases.
After news of the policy change, the official Twitter account for the Google Walkout organizers praised the company’s progress, saying it “still just the beginning.”
Google said the new policy will not apply to disputes with former employees, or those with previously settled claims. The company said it will notify suppliers with whom it contracts workers so they can make decisions about implementing similar policies.
Despite some progress across the industry, the end of forced arbitration across all workplace disputes is not widespread.