Friday, 09 November 2018 07:54

Google says no forced arbitration for sexual harassment Featured

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Google says no forced arbitration for sexual harassment Pixabay

Google has announced that from now on it will not force individual employees with sexual harassment or sexual assault claims to go through arbitration, though the company said that arbitration may still be the best option.

In a statement to employees, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said that investigations and outcomes of sexual harassment claims would be more clearly explained in future.

His statement came as a reaction to walkouts staged by employees worldwide on 1 November against sexism, racism and the lack of checks on executive power in the company.

The protests came in the wake of a report of a handsome payout to Android chief Andy Rubin, who was said to have been paid US$90 million when he left the company in 2014 4 over a sexual misconduct allegation, with a woman at the company having accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex.

The employees who walked out in protest made the following demands:

  • An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees.
  • A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
  • A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
  • A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
  • Elevate the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the chief executive and make recommendations directly to the board of directors. Appoint an employee representative to the board.

Pichai said the company would change the way it handled this category of claims by providing reporting channels on one site, enhancing the processes to handle complaints and offering more care and resources during and after the complaint.

"We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training. From now on if you don’t complete your training, you’ll receive a one-rating dock in Perf (editor's note: Perf is our performance review system)," he said.

The article about the payout to Rubin also cited several other sex-related happenings the company: co-founder Larry Page dated Marissa Mayer, one of the first engineers at Google, and later Yahoo! chief. Sergey Brin, the other co-founder, had a consensual extra-marital fling with an employee in 2014.

Eric Schmidt, the current chairman of Google's parent Alphabet, retained a mistress of his to work as a company consultant.

And the company's general counsel from 2002, David Drummond, had an affair with senior contract manager Jennifer Blakely. They had a child too, after which Google made Blakely leave the legal department. Drummond is now the chief legal officer of Alphabet and has made about US$190 million from stock options and awards.

None of these details were denied by Google; Google chief Sundar Pichai did not contest anything in a note that he issued jointly with People Operations vice-president Ellen Naughton.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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