Google is ditching its mandatory-arbitration policy after mass protest

Troy Wolverton/Business Insider
  • On Thursday, Google announced it would end forced arbitration for all internal matters moving forward.
  • Forced arbitration is a corporate practice whereby employees waive their right to take some employer disputes to court and instead must settle the matters privately.
  • Previously, Google had made arbitration optional only for disputes involving sexual harassment or sexual assault.
  • An end to forced arbitration was a major cause for those organising walkouts at Google. “We commend the company in taking this step so that all its workers can access their civil rights through public court,” walkout organisers said Thursday.

After Google employees around the world walked out in protest in November, the company changed its forced-arbitration policy for disputes involving sexual harassment and sexual assault.

On Thursday, Google announced it would end forced arbitration for all internal matters moving forward.

The policy change is set to take effect March 21 and will not apply to former disputes or settled claims.

Mandatory arbitration – a corporate practice whereby employees waive their right to take some employer disputes to court and instead must settle the matters privately – had been a common industry practice among tech companies but was highly contested by walkout organisers at Google.

In December, the organisers issued a letter saying Google had not gone far enough in its policy changes.


Read more:
Organisers of the successful Google employee walkout are now calling on the rest of the tech industry to take up their cause

They demanded that the company end forced arbitration for all work-related cases, including cases of discrimination, and for the new policy to extend to TVCs – the company’s term for long- and short-term contract workers.

The group also called on employees from other tech companies to join in their efforts.

“20,000 Googlers walking out of work was the first moment in an escalating movement,” the letter said. “Since then, we’ve heard from tech workers at 15+ other major tech companies about their experiences. We vow to fight together in 2019 until forced arbitration is abolished for all our FTE and TVC colleagues.”

In a letter on Thursday reacting to Google’s latest policy change, walkout organisers appeared cautiously optimistic.

“We commend the company in taking this step so that all its workers can access their civil rights through public court,” the group wrote. “We will officially celebrate when we see these changes reflected in our policy websites and/or employment agreements.”

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal at +1 (209) 730-3387, email at [email protected], or Twitter DM at @nickbastone.

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