With employee action creating creating pressure in the tech industry, Facebook has finally opted to end forced arbitration for employees seeking to file claims of sexual harassment. Where those cases would previously have been handled behind closed doors, allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Facebook workers can now be filed in open court.
Sustained employee pressure on this issue has helped draw attention to this widely used and disliked practice—notably last week’s massive walkout of Google employees after a New York Times investigation revealed that one of the company’s top brass, Andy Rubin, had received a $90m golden parachute as he was being pushed out due to repeated issues of sexual misconduct. Yesterday in a company-wide email, CEO Sundar Pichai announced Google would be ending forced arbitration for employees in cases of sexual harassment.
These victories—earned through the work of mass employee outrage and individual whistleblowers like former Uber engineer Susan Fowler—remain incomplete though. In some cases, class-action lawsuits are still prohibited, and Google’s changes did not carve out similar rights for the contract workers the company relies heavily upon. (In a Medium post yesterday, organisers have vowed to continue pushing for further reform.) We’ve asked Facebook if it’s also engaged in similar half-measures and will update when we hear back.