Google will end forced arbitration requirement for sexual harassment claims following walkout


Google will no longer require its employees to submit sexual harassment claims to an arbitration process that prevented victims from going to court.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday sent a note to employees announcing a number of changes after 20,000 workers last week walked out at Google offices around the world, protesting the company’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against high-level executives.

{mosads}”We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” Pichai wrote. “It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Critics of forced arbitration say it helps companies sweep misconduct claims under the rug by keeping the accusations out of open court.

Some Democrats have tried to push legislation to ban forced arbitration clauses from employee contracts in response to the #MeToo movement. And in the past year, both Microsoft and Uber have ended their own forced arbitration requirements.

Google will also be offering more transparency to its employees about the workplace harassment claims it receives and will overhaul its internal process for reporting those claims.

Some of the changes were included in a list of demands published by the walkout’s organizers last week. The massive demonstrations came in response to a New York Times report that detailed how the company had paid $90 million in exit pay to Android creator Andy Rubin as he was being pushed out following a claim that he had coerced an employee into performing oral sex on him in 2013.

The group behind the walkout did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. 

The employees also demanded that the company install a member of the board of directors who would represent their interests and publish pay data for Google employees to provide transparency on gendered wage inequality at the company.

The group behind the walkout applauded the changes Thursday but said it fell short of what was needed to change Google’s culture, noting that it still left contract workers vulnerable.

“Today, Google made progress toward addressing these demands,” the group said in a Medium post.

“However, the response ignored several of the core demands — like elevating the diversity officer and employee representation on the board — and troublingly erased those focused on racism, discrimination, and the structural inequity built into the modern day Jim Crow class system that separates ‘full time’ employees from contract workers.”

The Department of Labor has sued to obtain the pay data and alleged a systemic problem of female employees being underpaid at Google.

In his note on Thursday, Pichai made no mention of those demands. Of the 11 directors on the board at Google’s parent company, just two are women.

Updated at 5:50 p.m.


Most Popular

Load more


See all Video