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 KellyThe Congressional Black Caucus: America stands to lose a lot under TrumpCare Pelosi joins other Dem leaders in support of Chicago Symphony Orchestra strikers Hillicon Valley: US threatens to hold intel from Germany over Huawei | GOP senator targets FTC over privacy | Bipartisan bill would beef up 'internet of things' security | Privacy groups seize on suspended NSA program | Tesla makes U-turn MORE (D-Ill.), Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements New Jersey Dems tell Pentagon not to use military funds for border wall Nielsen testifies: Five things you need to know 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 LeeProgressives threaten to derail major Dem spending proposal Speaker in waiting? Rapid rise of Hakeem Jeffries fuels talk Congress should look into its own taxes and travel, not just Trump's MORE (D-Calif.) and G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldGOP lawmaker draws backlash for telling Democratic colleague to 'shut up' during heated ObamaCare debate Hillicon Valley — Presented by NCTA — Meet the DNC's new chief security officer | FTC probes broadband providers' privacy practices | Dem net neutrality bill clears first hurdle Dem net neutrality bill clears first hurdle in House 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.