Facebook won't force employees to settle sexual harassment claims privately thanks to the Google walkout protests

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Facebook is ending a policy of required arbitration in cases of sexual harassment at the company.
  • The policy requires employees to give up their right to sue.
  • This change came a day after Google also ended the practice, following demands from employees protesting sexual misconduct.
  • Forced arbitration has become a sensitive issue and has been interpreted as a way for companies to shield themselves from sexual misconduct claims being made public.

Facebook is putting an end to required arbitration in cases of sexual harassment, allowing employees to pursue claims in court.

Facebook announced the policy change in an internal message to staff on Friday. It also changed its policy on office relationships – now executives at a director level or higher must disclose if they are dating somebody at the company.

The change came a day after Google changed its policy to end required arbitration, which was a demand made when 20,000 Google staff walked away from their desks to protest sexual harassment at the company.

The Google protest followed a New York Times report which revealed high-level executives were credibly accused of sexual misconduct and had been allowed to leave the company with huge exit packages.


Read more:
Here’s the memo Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent to employees on the changes to Google’s sexual-harassment policy after the walkout

The organisers behind the Google protest hailed Facebook’s decision on Twitter:

Required arbitration forces employees to settle disputes privately, precluding them from taking suits to court. The process has been criticised as being weighted against employees, and making it harder for people to band together in class actions. Facebook’s move means its employees now have a choice between going to an arbitrator or making their claims public in court.

Other Silicon Valley companies have got rid of required arbitration in the past, including Uber in May and Microsoft in December 2017.

“There’s no question that we’re at a pivotal moment,” Facebook’s vice president of people Lori Goler told the Wall Street Journal.

“This is a time when we can be part of taking the next step,” she added, and confirmed that while Facebook staff haven’t staged protests like their counterparts at Google, sexual harassment has been a growing topic of discussion at the company.

Business Insider contacted Facebook for comment.

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