On Thursday, Google employees from around the world walked off the job briefly to protest the company’s alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct claims against some of its executives. The walkout was the latest protest by employees expressing frustration over the treatment of women in the workplace, specifically sexual harassment, and efforts to cover up rather than address bad behavior.
Approximately 1,000 Google workers protested in San Francisco and thousands more showed up at Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, according to the Associated Press. Protests were also held in Tokyo, Singapore, London, New York and Seattle as engineers and other workers held signs and chanted slogans including “times up” – a reference to the #TimesUp movement that was launched by Hollywood celebrities to address the rampant sexual harassment and retaliation in the entertainment industry and in response to the broader #MeToo movement. Together the movements have helped victims of sexual harassment break their silence and reclaim their voice and dignity.
The tech giant is known for offering employees’ a number of job perks while helping reshape how corporate America addresses job satisfaction. Yet Thursday’s walkouts revealed a different side of the company. One where a male-dominated industry allows “frat-house behavior” and systemic sexual harassment to remain unchecked.
Employee protesters called on the company to end “forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases,” which a requires employees to forgo their right to sue and frequently includes a confidentiality agreement.
“The law is clear that workers should not have to tolerate sexual harassment in order to maintain their job or paycheck,” said Larry Golston, a lawyer with the Beasley Allen Law Firm who focuses much of his practice on employment law and business litigation. “Without a doubt, employees who break their silence about sexual harassment in the workplace are very courageous. They are also at the forefront of compelling our country to grapple with evolving standards for suitable workplace behavior.”
The walkouts come on the heels of a New York Times exposé detailing how Google protected Andy Rubin, a former Google executive, despite the sexual misconduct allegations lodged against him. Rubin created the Android software and was sent off with a “hero’s farewell,” including a $90 million parting compensation package.
McDonald’s workers took similar action in September. The workers staged protest strikes in 10 U.S. cities to share their experiences of sexual harassment on the job and to call for an end to tolerating such behavior.
New York Times