Employees will be able to sue in court, including class-action lawsuits.
Google is dropping forced arbitration requirements for its employees, the company announced on Thursday. Starting March 21, both existing and new employees will have the option to sue Google in court and to join together in class-action lawsuits.
The news is a victory for a group of activist Google employees who have been pressuring Google to make this change since last fall. Thousands of Googlers walked out last November to protest Google’s handling of recent sexual harassment controversies.
Google quickly agreed to drop forced arbitration requirements in certain sexual harassment cases. But critics kept up the pressure, and Google is now exempting all employees and direct contractors from forced arbitration requirements in a broader range of cases.
The change illustrates the increasingly restive mood of technology workers at Google and across Silicon Valley in general. Companies like Google have traditionally been viewed as good places to work, and until recently employees rarely engaged in this kind of public activism. But a series of high-profile sexual harassment scandals, as well as a broader public backlash against the technology giants, has emboldened workers to speak out.
At Google, outrage was sparked by news that Android founder Andy Rubin had been allowed to leave with an exit package worth tens of millions of dollars after being accused of sexual harassment by a Google employee. According to the New York Times, the company found the allegations to be credible. Rubin was one of three executives allowed to leave quietly, and with a generous exit package, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.