Google Is Ending Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Google ends mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases

"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that".

After years as a free-wheeling, fast-growing startup, Google is trying to adjust to the responsibilities and realities of being one of the world's most powerful companies.

Google will end its policy of forcing workers to sign away their right to take a sexual harassment case to court, in a win for the 20,000 employees who staged a protest last week over alleged payouts to predatory executives.

Pichai released a public memo in which he said that arbitration, a quasi-legal private dispute resolution process that often favors corporations over individuals, would now be "optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims".

Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after thousands of high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.

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He also pledged to provide more detail around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes at the company as part of Google's Investigations Report.

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

The company will also revise the manner in which it will probe employee concerns, including streamlining reporting channels, allowing staff to be accompanied by support persons and offering extra care and resources like counselling and career support during and after the process. "And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable and respectful workplace", said Pichai.

The protests at Google earlier this month followed a New York Times report that the company in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to a senior vice president, Andy Rubin, after he was accused of sexual harassment. When previously confronted with accusations that it shortchanges women - made by the U.S. Labor Department and in lawsuits filed by female employees -Google has maintained that its compensation system doesn't discriminate between men and women.

Protest organizers said Google publicly champions diversity and inclusion but doesn't do enough to put words into action.

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