Google terminates the forced arbitration contracts for workers after the Google / Boing Boing uprising


The waves of protests and walkouts that swept Google last year have sparked many grievances and concerns, ranging from the company's deal to the Pentagon for the supply of AI for drones to secret creation. of a censored search tool for the Chinese market. The company paid $ 90 million to the Android executive to quietly leave after a series of disturbing incidents of sexual harassment and sexual abuse that were revealed.

The Rubin incident was aggravated by the company's usual practice of requiring its employees to accept binding arbitration contracts as a condition of employment (binding arbitration clauses meaning that you waive your right to seek justice in any way). justice, including as part of a class action, and instead agree that your disagreements be heard by a company "aribitrator" paid for by the company with which you are angry, which usually – unsurprisingly – alongside of this company).

Binding arbitration agreements meant that women who were victims of systematic discrimination and abuse at Google could not sue the company, especially not collectively through class actions, which often is the only way economically achievable for groups of people to obtain redress from giant and powerful companies. – in a binding arbitration, the women who had been abused at Google could not even sue to be released from their confidentiality clauses in order to publicly discuss their experiences.

Last month, a group of Democratic activists launched the #endforcedarbitration campaign, which establishes an active link between #metoo and forced arbitration. Although the long-term goal of activists was to eliminate forced arbitration clauses in all work contracts, their first target was Google's work contracts. They scored the first try: Google has retroactively waived all binding arbitration clauses existing in employment contracts. , expanding the decision made in November 2018 by the company to remove arbitration contracts from new employees. This means that people who are victims of discrimination, harassment, abuse and other wrongdoing before November will also be able to go to court.

Google, like all technology companies, has access to almost unlimited capital and has managed to escape most regulations and taxes, but all the money and regulation of the world can not solve its biggest bottleneck strangulation: the massive shortage of technology workers, which The huge political power of Google's workforce (that's why Google has secretly pressured the Trump administration to make it illegal for them Googlers to organize themselves by email).

Technicians are realizing their power and their responsibilities, with great things on the horizon.

Google said Thursday that it would no longer prevent employees from suing the company for discrimination, unfair dismissal or bundling in class actions.

This change will end Google's policy of requiring employees to settle such disputes in arbitration. The hearings are usually closed and the arbitrators are paid by the company. Critics say that arbitration allows sexual harassers to take multiple victims because of secrecy.

In November, Google gave up mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment and assault claims. The decision made on Thursday is an important extension of this policy. Among other things, this will allow Google's current employees to move past claims from arbitration to court. Nevertheless, recent policy improvements at Google and other technology companies have come too late for some employees.

Google ends forced arbitration after an employee's protest [Nitasha Tiku/Wired]

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Cory Doctorow

I write books. My latest are: A graphic novel by YA titled In Real Life (with Jen Wang); a documentary book on the arts and the Internet titled Information Does not Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age (with introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer) and a science fiction novel YA entitled Homeland (continuation of Little Brother). I speak everywhere and I tweet and tumble too.



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