Google Ends Forced Arbitration
Google, LLC announced last week that it will end forced arbitration and class action waivers for its employees. The announcement follows the company's announcement in November that it would no longer require workers to arbitrate sexual harassment and assault claims.
Forced Arbitration Agreements
A significant portion of the American workforce is subject to mandatory arbitration. This is the case with Google employees, and others around the country as a result of agreements signed during the initial employment process. Many arbitration agreements require an arbitrator to be chosen by the parties once a violation, complaint or alleged infraction occurs during employment. Complaints can range from basic wage and hour violations to complex issues arising from discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Oftentimes the arbitrator is paid by the employer, which may seem advantageous to the employee. However, the result of arbitration can be legally binding, meaning once the parties agree to settle a dispute in arbitration, the employee gives up their right to further settle in a court of law.
Due to the legally binding nature and the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings, employees may feel disheartened once their grievance is compelled to arbitration. Employees may even feel deceived after learning they signed a mandatory arbitration agreement as part of a bevy of legal documents during their onboarding process. The feeling of deception is only topped by the negative feelings surrounding employment violations, especially if the violation includes serious infractions such as harassment, discrimination or retaliation.
Furthermore, with forced arbitration an employee does not have the ability to work with outside counsel in identifying other similarly situated employees to create a class action against the employer. Employees are also less likely to win their case in arbitration compared to a court and monetary awards are less in arbitration when compared to a trial court. Lastly, when compared to a court decision, there is no right of appeal in the large majority of arbitration cases.
Google's Latest Announcement
After months of protests by its workers, Alphabet Inc.'s Google will stop making its employees sign away their right to bring claims against it in court. Google's latest announcement follows the company's end to forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault. That announcement took place last year after thousands of workers walked out following reports of sexual misconduct in the company. The workers were publicly opposing how the search giant handles internal complaints, especially those involving harassment and discrimination. Google's end to forced arbitration in all cases will take place on March 21, a spokeswoman said last Thursday. The company will also cease enforcing agreements that waived workers' right to bring their claims as class actions.
The California-based company will also remove arbitration requirements for its temporary workers and contractors, although it won't require third-parties that employ sub-contracted staff for Google to institute the same changes. About half of Google's workers are officially classified as employees.
California Employment Lawyers
If you have questions about your rights as an employee in California, especially when it comes to forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment or discrimination, don't hesitate to contact an experienced wrongful termination lawyer. To discuss these California employment laws, or a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to call us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.
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