Responding to internal pressures, Google will end forced arbitration for its current and future employees starting March 21.
Spurred by employee protests and walkouts last year, the Menlo Park, California-based tech giant says it will no longer include a forced arbitration clause in its regular employee contracts. The arbitration agreements Google is ditching required workers to waive their right to sue the company for sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Google will also strike mandatory arbitration requirements for employees of Google subsidiary companies, including X research and development lab, the DeepMind AI program, and the Access broadband unit. But the changes do not apply to other companies owned by Alphabet, which became Google’s parent company after a corporate restructuring in 2015.
Any contract workers or temporary employees that Google hires directly will not be required to sign an arbitration agreement, but it will continue to work with companies that do put mandatory arbitration clauses in their employee contracts. Google says it will tell these companies about the policy change, but it’s up to them as to whether they follow suit.
The change will not work retroactively, so employees who settled claims can’t reopen them. But current employees who have unsettled past or active claims will be able to take them to court if they wish. They also have the option of arbitrating their claims if they prefer.
According to Tech Crunch, a group of about 35 employees joined forces to demand that Google scrap forced arbitration, taking to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to raise public awareness of the practice.
A massive 20,000-worker walkout at Google in November caught the company’s attention and gave momentum to the efforts to end forced arbitration. Other corporations, including Airbnb, eBay, and Facebook followed Google’s lead and removed forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.