Facebook ends forced arbitration of sexual misconduct claims

Google vows to end booze culture at its work events

Forced arbitration has become a sensitive issue and has been interpreted as a way for companies to shield themselves from sexual misconduct claims being made public. However, they were disappointed with the lack of response from the company on other demands, such as elevating the diversity officer and employee representation on the board.

Reports of multiple sexual harassment claims resulting in quiet pay-offs for high-up executives in the company led to a walk-out by employees across Google offices earlier this month.

Facebook announced the policy change in an internal message to staff on Friday.

The company also announced that executives are now required to disclose any romantic relationship with another employee, even if they are not directly overseeing the employee's work.

Google Walkout for Real Change, the employee group behind the recent global protests, said: "It's inspiring to see the effects of #GoogleWalkout spread past our company".

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The Google protests last week were sparked by a New York Times report on October 25 revealing that executives were paid out millions in exit packages after they had been credibly accused of harassment. The process has been criticised as being weighted against employees, and making it harder for people to band together in class actions.

Arbitration of harassment claims will be optional instead of obligatory, according to Pichai, a move that could end anonymous settlements that fail to identify those accused of harassment.

"This is a pivotal moment for our industry and corporate America more broadly", Lori Goler, a Facebook vice president of Human Resources, said in a statement. Microsoft, Uber and Lyft have also scrapped the practice within the past year.

"This is a time when we can be part of taking the next step", she added, and confirmed that while Facebook staff haven't staged protests like their counterparts at Google, sexual harassment has been a growing topic of discussion at the company.

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