Multinational technology company Google has reportedly announced it will no longer require mandatory arbitration of employee disputes with the company effective March 21, 2019. The company’s new arbitration policy will apply to Google employees as well as individuals who work for entities that exist under the Google legal umbrella such as the Access broadband unit and the DeepMind artificial intelligence program. The mandatory arbitration change will not, however, apply to other related companies that are owned by Alphabet but outside of the Google legal entity. Although the arbitration change will technically apply to the company’s temporary and contract workers, Google will not require staffing companies to alter their own employment contracts.
The elimination of Google’s mandatory arbitration requirement came after a group of Google employees placed public pressure the company to back away from mandatory arbitration. Last November, a number of Google employees participated in a global walkout to protest the way Google handled sexual harassment claims filed against the company’s top executives. Following the walkout, Google and other leading technology companies such as Microsoft Corporation waived their policies for mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims. At the time, however, Google maintained its mandatory arbitration requirement for other employee claims.
Google’s announcement means employees will now have the option of choosing to resolve any future claims against the company through either court or arbitral proceedings. Despite the policy change, Google will not reopen employee claims that have already concluded arbitration or have previously settled.