Google is ditching its mandatory arbitration policy after mass protest

google walkoutTroy Wolverton/Business Insider

  • On Thursday, Google announced it would end forced arbitration for all internal matters moving forward.
  • Forced arbitration is a corporate practice whereby upon their hiring, employees waive their right to take some employer disputes to court, and instead must settle the matters privately.
  • Previously, Google had made arbitration optional for sexual-harassment and sexual-assault disputes only.
  • An end to forced arbitration was a major cause for Google Walkout organizers who said on Thursday: "We commend the company in taking this step so that all its workers can access their civil rights through public court."

After Google employees around the world walked out in protest last November, the company changed its forced-arbitration policy for sexual-harassment and sexual-assault disputes only.

On Thursday, Google announced it would end forced arbitration for all internal matters moving forward.

The policy change will go into effect on March 21 and will not be applied to any former disputes or settled claims.

Mandatory arbitration - a corporate practice whereby upon their hiring, employees waive their right to take some employer disputes to court, and instead must settle the matters privately - had been a common industry practice among tech companies, but one that was highly contested by Google walkout organizers.

In December, walkout organizers issued a letter saying Google had not gone far enough in its policy changes.

Read more: Organizers of the successful Google employee walkout are now calling on the rest of the tech industry to take up their cause

They demanded that the company end forced arbitration for all work-related cases, including cases of discrimination, and for the new policy to extend to TVCs - the company's term for long- and short-term contract workers.

The group also called on employees from other tech companies to join in their efforts.

"20,000 Googlers walking out of work was the first moment in an escalating movement," the letter read. "Since then, we've heard from tech workers at 15+ other major tech companies about their experiences. We vow to fight together in 2019 until forced arbitration is abolished for all our FTE and TVC colleagues."

In a letter on Thursday reacting to Google's new policy to end all mandatory arbitration, walkout organizers appeared cautiously optimistic.

"We commend the company in taking this step so that all its workers can access their civil rights through public court," the group wrote. "We will officially celebrate when we see these changes reflected in our policy websites and/or employment agreements."

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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