It was last Thursday when Google changed its policy of forced arbitration in case of sexual harassment. A day after that, Facebook announced that it is also changing its policy of forced arbitration that requires employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private, as per the Wall Street Journal. This means that employees can now take any of their sexual harassment complaints to a court of law.
Following Google’s footsteps, Facebook has also made its arbitration policy optional. Anthony Harrison, corporate media relations director, Facebook, confirmed that Facebook has made arbitration optional. “Today, we are publishing our updated Workplace Relationships policy and amending our arbitration agreements to make arbitration a choice rather than a requirement in sexual harassment claims. Sexual harassment is something that we take very seriously, and there is no place for it at Facebook”, said Harrison.
Moreover, Facebook also announced an updated “Relationships at work policy”. As per the updated policy, anyone who starts a relationship with anyone in the management chain must disclose it to the HR. Additionally, if you are a Director or above and you get into a relationship with someone at the company, it must be reported to the HR.
Google decided to modify its policy after 20,000 Google employees along with Temps, Vendors, and Contractors walked out earlier this month to protest against the discrimination, racism, and sexual harassment present at Google’s workplace. Google made the arbitration process optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.
“Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and it still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy), but, we recognize that the choice should be up to you”, mentioned Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, on the announcement page.
Facebook is the latest tech company who has decided to change the forced arbitration policy. Other companies such as Uber and Microsoft have changed their arbitration policy in the recent past. Uber made arbitration optional, back in May, to bring “transparency, integrity, and accountability” to its handling of sexual harassment. Microsoft was one of the first major organizations who decided to completely eliminate forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, last December.
It seems like Google Walkout managed to not only push Google to take a stand against sexual assault but also inspired other companies to take the right steps in case of sensitive issues.