Google ends forced arbitration for sexual misconduct cases

Sundar Pichai

Sundar PichaiMore

"It's clear we need to make some changes", Pichai noted.

Arbitration of harassment claims will be optional instead of obligatory, according to Pichai, a move that could end anonymous settlements that fail to identify those accused of harassment.

"Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you", he wrote.

Mr. Pichai said on Thursday that Google would provide more details about the outcome of sexual harassment investigations, as well as improve the handling of cases by allowing victims to be accompanied by a support person.

It followed a series of revelations about sexual harassment and misconduct at the company, including a $90m payout to Android inventor Andy Rubin after he had left Google, despite what the firm considered a credible claim of sexual misconduct against him - a claim he denies.

The company's reporting channels will reevaluated, starting next year, and the biz intends to take a more active role in overseeing complaints against or by temps, contractors, and vendors.

"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.

Some teams at the company have already instituted two-drink limits at events or use ticket systems, Google said. The onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams, and we will impose more onerous actions if problems persist.

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Employees who organized last week's demonstrations estimated that 20,000 workers participated across Alphabet offices in five continents.

CEO Sundar Pichai spelled out the concessions in an email sent Thursday to Google employees.

"But we also have goals as a company and we can't decide we are going to miss those".

Last week, Google employees staged mass walkout protests around the world following allegations that Google protected sexual harassers at the company.

When a complaint goes into arbitration, an employee waives their right to sue.

In a statement organisers commended Google for the response, but said more changes are needed.

While the policy changes Pichai outlined met numerous protesters' requirements, they do not include adding an employee representative to Alphabet's board or elevating the chief diversity officer to report directly to the CEO, it said.

Mandatory sexual harassment training will also be updated and expanded with those not completing training receiving a docking of their performance rating.

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