What Is Forced Arbitration And Why Do Google Employees Want Congress To Put a Stop To It?
Photo Credit: AfroTech

What Is Forced Arbitration And Why Do Google Employees Want Congress To Put a Stop To It?

Google employees won their own battle against forced arbitration, and now they’re calling on Congress to end it everywhere.

Several “Googlers” are hosting a phone drive on May 1st encouraging people to call their Congress members to vote in favor of the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, according to the Verge. 

Employees have been fighting for change  within the company for months. In November, a walkout prompted Google leadership to change its forced arbitration policies in March, allowing cases of discrimination and sexual harassment to be handled in court. The company later expanded the policy to include all cases. Other tech companies like Facebook and Salesforce have also changed their policies since the protests.

Google also recently announced that changes would be made to the way employees can report misconduct.

“The commitments we made in November aren’t just about changing policies or launching new programs,” Google’s Global Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Melonie Parker, said in a blog post. “We want every Googler to walk into a workplace filled with dignity and respect.”

While changes are being made, some say they are experiencing retaliation from Google. Two employees have come forward saying that the company retaliated against them following their roles in the 20,000-person walkout. They were demoted and had large roles within the company taken away.

They aren’t alone. The Google Walkout For Real Change Twitter page has been detailing a number of other instances of Google allegedly retaliating against its employees for speaking out against unfair practices.

So what is forced arbitration, exactly? Basically, when employees sign forced arbitration agreements, it takes away their rights to appear in court in the event of a dispute. Instead, they’re forced to handle disputes through private arbitration — a body separate from the courts — that’s usually designed by the company they’re fighting against. So you see how this could get a bit murky. Tech companies have been using the tactic for years, which is why a lot of cases involving discrimination or harassment never really make it to light. They’re settled behind closed doors without the world ever knowing.

So yes, Google employees won their own battle and got their bosses to change arbitration policies, but you can see why they’d want other industries to end the practice as well.