Google ends forced arbitration policy for all employees

Google said on Thursday that it will end a controversial company-wide policy that required forced arbitration for all employees.

The policy change will go into effect on March 21. Under the new policy, Google employees will be able to pursue their claims in court and will no longer be required to arbitrate privately -- thus ensuring any complaints aren’t kept secret and allowing employees to sue the company.

The new rule, however, will not apply to outside firms that employ contractors.

In an open letter penned in December, Google employees vowed to fight “until forced arbitration is abolished.” Although employees commended Google for the policy change on Thursday in another open letter, they warned that “the fight is not over.”

“We will officially celebrate when we see these changes reflected in our policy websites and/or employment agreements,” they wrote, adding, “Google also still works with thousands of suppliers and partners that force arbitration on their own workers.”

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Next week, Google employees said they will travel to Capitol Hill to advocate for an end to forced arbitration for all employees.

Last year, following mass protests around the world, the search engine giant said it would make arbitration available for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. That decision came on the heels of a walkout by employees, who were protesting what they said was Google’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives.

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“We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo sent to employees at the time. “It’s clear we need to make some changes.”