Google Ends Forced Arbitration for Sexual Harassment Claims

Google is ending forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault in response to last week's employee walkout.

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"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post. "It's clear we need to make some changes."

The biggest change: Going forward, Google employees will be able to bring workplace sexual harassment charges to court, as opposed to being forced to handle them privately through company arbitration. Pichai said "arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you."

Meanwhile, Google plans to create a new section in its annual Investigations Report focused on sexual harassment, detailing the number of claims over time and disciplinary actions taken. It will also create one dedicated site where employees can report concerns, and start letting employees bring a colleague along for support when raising these issues to HR.

Google also promised to continue working to create "a more inclusive culture for everyone." As part of that effort, Google has pledged to put "a diverse slate of candidates on the interview short list" for all director-level and higher positions.

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To read the full list of changes, head here.

Some 20,000 Google employees and contractors in 50 cities participated in last week's global walkout protesting the company's handling of workplace sexual harassment. The walkout was in response to recent revelations that Google gave lucrative exit package to two top executives, both of whom resigned over credible sexual misconduct charges. One of the executives, Android founder Andy Rubin, reportedly received $90 million.

Besides demanding Google end forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment, the protesters urged the company to "end pay and opportunity inequality," start publishing a transparency report about sexual harassment cases, and create a clear process for anonymously reporting sexual misconduct.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.

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