Google Employees No Longer Restricted to Arbitration for Legal Disputes Starting March 21

Last week, tech giant Google announced that it will be dropping its forced arbitration requirements, effectively allowing employees to sue Google in court, as well as join a class action lawsuit if they so choose. The news comes after months of effort and activism by a group of Google employees who have been working to effect change within the company since fall 2018. The initial disagreement related to the way Google allegedly handled sexual harassment and abuse controversies and resulted in a worldwide walkout of approximately 20,000 employees.

Starting on March 21, Google indicated that it will end its “mandatory arbitration” policy. As of that date, Google employees will be able to resolve complaints involving discrimination and harassment through the court system, although complainants may still opt for arbitration if they prefer. This policy shift applies only to Google’s full-time employees. It remains unclear how the policy will apply to Google contractors, vendors, and other temporary employees.

Google additionally indicated that it will no longer include a “mandatory arbitration” clause in legal agreements with temporary and contract workers in a move that appears to attempt to address that uncertainty, but the tech company stated that it is unable to require firms that employ these workers to make the same change to their own employment agreements. Google said that it will reach out to inform these companies about its policy change but each company is entitled to make its own decisions with respect to arbitration clauses.

Additional Reading

Google Ends Forced Arbitration for All Employees, ArsTechnica, February 22, 2019

Google is Ending Forced Arbitration in a Monumental Win for Its Workers, Slate, February 22, 2019

Google to Allow Employees to Sue Over Discrimination, Harassment, The Hill, February 21, 2019

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