Google employees throughout the U.S., including those working in Michigan, walked out from their workplaces in protest of the company’s alleged treatment of women executives. According to The Detroit News, more than 100 employees at Google’s Ann Arbor location walked out of the Traverwood Drive office. While standing in the rain, employees held up signs to express their disapproval of the way the tech behemoth’s management mishandled claims of sexual harassment.
Protesters called for an end to Google’s alleged gender-pay inequality, non-inclusive hiring practices and mandatory arbitration policy. Reportedly, employees who wish to file a harassment or discrimination claim against another employee at Google must enter into arbitration, or seek an alternative dispute resolution. Generally, arbitration is similar to having a closed-door negotiation session with a company-approved mediator or a panel of judges and mediators.
The concept behind arbitration is for an employee to air his or her grievances with the mediator and then come to a resolution without the involvement of the court system. At the end of an arbitration session, a financial settlement may be reached between the company and its harmed employee. Many settlements, however, are contingent upon employees signing a confidentiality agreement and also agreeing to give up their right to pursue legal action against the company.
Google announced that it would end its forced arbitration policy and allow for its employees to file any harassment claims in court. Other technology companies have also begun scrapping their arbitration policies, which may serve to create a trend in the industry. These new policies, however, do not apply to independent contractors, which make up about half of Google’s workforce, as reported by Forbes magazine.