Monday, 17 December, 2018

Google ends mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases

Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Protest Over Sex MisconductMore Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Protest Over Sex MisconductMore
Russell Knight | 09 November, 2018, 12:41

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo sent to employees on Thursday that the company will revise its sexual harassment policy after last week's mass walkout by workers, who were protesting what they said was the tech giant's mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives.

Arbitration will become optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, Google said, enabling lawsuits on those matters.

"Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognise that choice should be up to you", Mr Pichai wrote. However, Pichai's email said the company will "provide more granularity around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes at the company as part of our Investigations Report".

Google will also provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. Google will also take "a fresh look" at its reporting channels to ensure claims are handled with empathy and care.

A New York Times report in late October claimed that Google had paid Andy Rubin $90 million as an "exit package" following reports of sexual harassment from 2013.

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Also of interest is Google's stance on alcohol.

"Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse", Google said in a released action statement.

The last couple of weeks haven't been great ones for Google. And there's something grossly infantilizing about the section of the announcement devoted to reminding Google employees that "the onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams". It will offer extended counseling, support for accommodations and leaves, and it will put together a team of advisors on the Employee Relations team focused on sexual harassment and discrimination claims. The global walkout spread to many countries in Europe, North America and Asia, including Britain, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and Google's headquarters in Mountain View in northern California. When previously confronted with accusations that it shortchanges women - made by the U.S. Labor Department and in lawsuits filed by female employees -Google has maintained that its compensation system doesn't discriminate between men and women.

The walkout, which took place on November 1, saw approximately 20,000 employees leave their Google offices around the globe at 11:10 a.m. local time.

A week after 20,000 employees walked out in protest over sexual misconduct and inequality at Google, the company said Thursday that it will commit to building a safer workplace, which includes ending forced arbitration and increasing its transparency on reported incidents of sexual misconduct.

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