After facing employee protests for several months, Google Thursday said it will no longer force employees to settle disputes with the company through arbitration.
The changed policy, which will come into effect March 21, will apply to current and future Google employees all over the world. Employees who have settled disputes in the past through forced arbitration will not, however, be able to reopen their cases.
The changes in the policy were communicated by the search giant to its staff via an email. Gina Scigliano, a Google spokeswoman, confirmed the same.
What Are The Changes Affected By Google?
After allegations of sexual misconduct at Google first surfaced last year, 20,000 of its employees around the globe staged massive protests and walkouts to show their resentment against the manner in which Google was handling these cases.
One of the demands of these protesting employees was to bring an end to Google’s policy of forced arbitration. Buckling into their pressure, the company had agreed to forego forced arbitration in individual cases pertaining to sexual harassment and assault in November.
The protesters were however not placated and said that the changes didn’t go far enough.
Through its latest announcement, Google has extended this practice to all worker disputes. The updated practices will, however, be applicable only to Google employees, leaving out those working with other Alphabet Inc. subsidiaries like Waymo and Google projects like Deep Mind and Access.
Furthermore, Google also extended the changes to include its agreements with contract workers and temporary staff, but will not impact the staffing firms.
Google will implement these changes by changing the company’s policy internally, without getting the employees to re-sign their work contracts.
Forced arbitration means that employees cannot take their employers to court when they complain against them. Their right to make a legal claim against their employers is waived and they are forced to go through the company’s private system.
60 million American workers are forced to give up their right to take legal action against their employers by being forced to agree to mandatory arbitration, a widespread practice in US employment contracts.
Since it restricts workers from speaking about their experiences, this practice is universally disdained.
Champions of those calling for an end to forced arbitration policies are obviously delighted with the changes affected by Google.
This victory never would have happened if workers hadn't banded together, supported one another, and walked out. Collective action works. Worker power works. This is still just the beginning. #GoogleWalkout #EndForcedArb https://t.co/Csfb0HXr8f
— Google Walkout For Real Change (@GoogleWalkout) February 21, 2019
Google is not the only first company which has taken a U-turn after employing the pressure tactics on employees for some time.
In May 2018, Uber had made a beginning by dropping all arbitration agreements with riders, staff and drivers in cases related to sexual assault and harassment. It had also scrapped the confidentiality provisions which prevented the victims from sharing their experiences.
The social giant Facebook had followed suit and announced in November that it would no longer force its employees to address cases of sexual harassment through private arbitration.
Microsoft, Lyft and Airbnb have also ended their forced arbitration policies either totally or partially.
Members of the Google Walkout For Real Change group are now looking forward to meeting legislators in Washington, DC, next week to advocate for a blanket ban on forced arbitration clauses.