Google employees all over the world walked out of work in protest over the way the company handles sexual misconduct. A New York Times report revealing that high-level Google employees accused of sexual misconduct kept their jobs or giving multi-million dollar severance packages sparked outrage, leading protests at Google offices worldwide.
These employees joined the ranks of people worldwide standing up and saying “enough is enough” when it comes to how corporations handle sexual harassment allegations.
Fighting back against sexual harassment in the workplace
Protest organizers demanded that Google change its sexual misconduct policy to ensure more transparency, as well as change its requirement that harassment and discrimination complaints go to arbitration. Mandatory arbitration forces employees to give up their right to sue and kept investors from finding out about issues in a company’s corporate culture. A study by Cornell University found that employees are more likely to win at trial than in arbitration, another reason why many corporations insisted on it in their employee policies.
But, many employees are unwilling to accept a corporation’s sexual harassment policy that does not do enough to protect employees. In this case, it seems Google’s employees were successful in bringing attention to this serious issue. Although the Economic Policy Institute has found that more than half of workers in America are still forced to go to arbitration with complaints, one of the world’s most prolific companies has now changed their policy.
Developments after the protest
About a week after the global walkout by employees, Google dropped mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct claims. Now Google employees can either file a lawsuit or try to resolve their claim through arbitration or within the company. Other companies, including Uber and Facebook, have made similar changes to their sexual harassment policies.
When employees are allowed to file a lawsuit, they have a better chance at recovering damages from the guilty party. These damages include lost wages, reinstatement if they lost their job, and damages for emotional distress.
As we have discussed previously on this blog, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in the workplace – and employees deserve to be heard. Anyone can find themselves being harassed and they have a right to seek justice. If you have been sexually harassed at your job and your employer refuses to act, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.