Lawmakers push Microsoft to ban private arbitration in all discrimination cases

Lawmakers push Microsoft to ban private arbitration in all discrimination cases
© Camille Fine

Lawmakers in the House are calling on Microsoft to extend its ban on private arbitration in cases sexual harassment and gender discrimination to all forms of discrimination.

“We write today in support Microsoft’s decision to eliminate forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and urge you to take similar action regarding cases of workplace discrimination whether they be race, gender identification or expression, sexual orientation, or religion,” Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyBlack Caucus unveils next steps to combat racism Democrats blast CDC report on minorities and COVID-19 Harris pushes for task force addressing racial disparities in coronavirus pandemic MORE (D-Ill.), Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman wins Democratic primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Primary Day in New Jersey MORE (D-N.J.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) wrote in a letter addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft this week announced that it would ban forced arbitration clauses — in which legal disputes are required to be settled privately outside of court — regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases.

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"While we commend Microsoft for steps it has taken to prevent workplace discrimination, more can be done," the three lawmakers wrote.

The letter comes as more high profile men are being accused of sexually harassing women in the workplace.

Though many industries have been affected, tech has reckoned with the implications of its own culture following the revelations of alleged rampant mistreatment of women at Uber. The scrutiny has led to top venture capitalists like Shervin Pishevar and Justin Caldbeck stepping down following accusations of sexual harassment.

The letter also comes after the Congressional Black Caucus aired its frustrations with the lack of diversity and treatment of minority workers within the technology industry.

After the CBC pressed Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on the matter during a meeting in October, two CBC members Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeState legislatures consider US Capitol's Confederate statues House eyes votes to remove symbols of Confederates from Capitol Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE (D-Calif.) and G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldHouse passes police reform bill that faces dead end in Senate Black Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel House to pass sweeping police reform legislation MORE (D-N.C.) traveled to California to discuss diversity in tech directly with firms in Silicon Valley.

Butterfield and Lee slammed the companies for their lack of work in the area during their trip.