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Harassment victims at Google gain more power

Google employees will now be able to more freely speak out over issues of sexual harassment at the firm.

Responding to demands from the around 20,000 workers who protested last week, the company has said it will end the practice of “forced arbitration” in cases of sexual harassment.

Arbitration will now be optional, chief executive Sundar Pichai said in an all-staff email.

The company did not, however, respond employees’ demands in other major areas of concern, angering campaigners.

Most notably, it did not comment on calls for Google’s board to have an employee representative, and for the company’s chief diversity officer to report directly to the chief executive.

 

‘Sincerely sorry’
In an email to staff on Thursday, Mr Pichai said: “Over the past few weeks Google’s leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you’ve shared.

“We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

The measures, Mr Pichai said, will increase transparency around instances of sexual harassment, expand mandatory training, and offer increased support for those with claims.

Most impactful will be a shift away from forced arbitration, a highly-criticised practice that meant employees were contractually-bound to deal with complaints internally, in what some legal observers have described as being a “private justice system”.

“We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims,” Mr Pichai wrote.

“Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (eg personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you.”

Credit: BBC

November 9, 2018

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