Forced arbitration for harassment cases no longer a thing in Facebook

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Illustration by Muntaha Hussain l TechEngage

Following a historical move by Google, Facebook has also announced to remove forced arbitration in sexual harassment cases. Earlier, employees filing a harassment case were to solve the matter discreetly. This generally involved a settlement mediated by the company representatives. The case would never go open and the victim would have to stop talking in response to a contract.
As of now, Facebook has made it possible for its employees to openly contest a sexual harassment case in the court. As part of its policy, Facebook has also altered a few rules regarding dating. It is now mandatory for executives of the director or higher level to inform the HR. This information is imperative whenever they are to enter a consensual relationship with another employee. According to the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Harrison, corporate media relations director at Facebook, has said:

“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 cases. Sexual harassment is something that we take very seriously and there is no place for it at Facebook.”

This groundbreaking change in policy by Google and Facebook arrives with the famous Google walkout as its context. Less than a week ago, thousands of Google employees all over the globe registered their protest over gross mishandling of a sexual harassment case by the corporate. This led to a momentous change in policy for Google. Facebook has now followed suit.
A week ago, a New York Times article broke the news that Google had awarded a 90 million release package to its android creator. This deal allegedly happened after an employee accused the man of forcing her into sexual acts. Google saw that he left hence proving the accusations held weight. However, the package and a promise to not include the sexual misconduct in any of the abuser’s records proved fatal for the company’s regulations.
The protesters who roughly made up one-fifth of the Google workforce had other demands as well. Removing forced arbitration was only one of their requirements for a settlement. The talks between the protesters and corporate representatives are still going on.

Google Defending Stance

Google conceded to the protesters’ demand for removing forced arbitration on Thursday. The company also released a file with more details on policies. However, even the concession has not stopped the chief executive officer, Sundar Pichai,  from slipping in a defense for the stance. He said:

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

Pichai also promised that Google will now be more transparent with its handling of sexual harassment cases. There is a talk of providing adequate support and voice to those raising such concerns. Pichai confirms that support personnel and counselor will be provided for those handling the aftermath of a coercive scenario. Sexual harassment training used to be held once every two years in Google. The policy has changed to include it every year now.
Stay tuned for more!

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