Google ends forced arbitration for sexual misconduct cases

In Mountain View Dublin New York and more Google employees walked out to protest the way Google handles sexual misconduct allegations

Google on Thursday announced it would end forced arbitration in cases of sexual assault and harassment. The email outlines a swath of changes, many of which meet the demands from organizers of last week's walkouts. "And we will double down on our commitment to be a representative, equitable, and respectful workplace". That's happening externally, with increased scrutiny by regulators and politicians, and internally with reports and rising complaints about Google's permissive culture when it comes to executive conduct and relationships with co-workers.

"But the issues that contributed to the walkout at Google - the company's controversial work with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence, its apparent willingness to build a censored search engine for China, and above all its handling of sexual harassment accusations against senior managers - proved too large for any one worker to confront alone, even if that worker made mid-six figures", he continued.

"All employees and contract workers across the company deserve to be safe", they wrote in an essay published on the Cut last week.

"We have an aspiration to be the best company in the world", Rodriguez said. "Sadly, the executive team has demonstrated through their lack of meaningful action that our safety is not a priority".

On Nov. 1, more than 20,000 Google workers abandoned their cubicles to protest past cases of alleged sexual harassment, following a New York Times report that detailed how the company protected and gave big payouts to male executives accused of misconduct.

In the letter, shared publicly on Google's blog, Pichai said Google recognizes it has not always gotten everything right in the past and for that, they are sincerely sorry.

With regard to training, Google says that starting next year, all employees will be required to complete sexual harassment training annually (it is now required every two years).

"I'm here protesting against harassment in the workplace to make sure we don't protect or support those perpetrators of harassment", one protester told Sky News.

Pichai met with other company leaders to address the demands on Monday, according to a release on Medium, and employees were briefed on the changes Thursday afternoon. It will offer extended counseling, support for accommodations and leaves, and it will put together a team of advisors on the Employee Relations team focused on sexual harassment and discrimination claims.

Meredith Whitaker, another organizer of the walkouts and co-director of the AI Now Institute, applauded her colleagues with a tweet. "It will continue working".

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