After employee protests, Google ends policy that forced employee complaints behind closed doors

Google announced Thursday that it would no longer require employees to settle complaints in private through a process known as mandatory arbitration, a move that comes just weeks after a campaign by Google employees that included a global walkout.

Google confirmed that the change applies to both current and future employees and will be effective March 21.


Arbitration is a private, quasi-legal process that some workers and activist organizations say is used by companies to shield internal disputes from public scrutiny. Google’s move comes three months after it made a similar announcement that only applied to sexual harassment cases.

Thousands of employees walked out of Google offices worldwide in November, including at the company’s Mountain View headquarters, after a report from The New York Times detailed that executives had received sizable payouts after leaving the company following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Google employees said that they were dissatisfied with the corporate response to sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. In recent months, tech workers across the industry have become more organized and vocal with regard to company policies regarding internal culture as well as how their technology is used by governments.

Axios first reported the news on Thursday.

Google in November ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims, a move that was followed by Facebook, Airbnb and eBay.

Mandatory arbitration remains a common policy for many companies, with the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, finding that more than 60 million American employees worked under the agreements.

A group of Google employees who had helped organize against the company’s policies, Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration, published a blog post following the announcement thanking the company but holding off on a victory lap.

“We commend the company in taking this step so that all its workers can access their civil rights through public court,” they wrote. “We will officially celebrate when we see these changes reflected in our policy websites and/or employment agreements.”

The group said it would be sending six of its members to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with legislators and call for a broader end to forced arbitration.

“We’re calling on Congress to make this a law to protect everyone,” they wrote. “Today was a good day. Now keep going.”

This article originally appeared on  NBC