Facebook and Google to End Mandatory Arbitration in Sexual Harassment Cases
Two technology industry giants have recently made dramatic changes to their sexual harassment policies. Prior to this change, both Google and Facebook required employees to settle sexual harassment claims only through private arbitration. However, Google and Facebook employees will now be able to pursue sexual harassment claims in court.
Google’s announcement that they were changing this policy came after nearly 20,000 employees staged a walkout to protest the way the company manages sexual harassment allegations. Facebook made the change just one day after Google’s announcement. The new sexual harassment policies adopted by Facebook and Google will apply only to sexual harassment or assault claims. The policy does not apply to other types of discrimination complaints.
Many Believe Forced Arbitration is Unconstitutional
Forced arbitration occurs when employees are required to sign documents in which they agree to settle legal disputes out of court. Instead of having their cases heard by a judge, an arbitrator decides the outcome of the case. Of course, citizens always have the right to arbitrate instead of going to trial. The issue arises when arbitrators are biased or companies choose arbitrators who rarely rule in favor of staff members. Although employees obviously have the option to not work for companies with forced arbitration requirements, many say that the practice is unconstitutional.
The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution addresses the rights of civil litigants when “the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars,” holding that “the right of a trial by jury shall be preserved.” The issue, however, is that those who are forced into binding arbitration never even get the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit—and, as a result, have no recourse to demand a jury trial.
You May Have Signed a Mandatory Arbitration Document and Not Even Know It
One study showed that over 60 million workers have signed a forced arbitration agreement. The National Employment Lawyers Association estimates that 80 of the 100 companies in the Fortune 100 use arbitration and 52 use forced arbitration. Many workers who have signed mandatory arbitration agreements have done so without even realizing it. Although it is a fairly commonplace practice, some say that ending forced arbitration is imperative to reducing the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. Angela Cornell, a Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell University, puts it this way, “I can’t see how enforcement of sexual harassment can be done effectively with mandatory arbitration language in place.”
Have You Experienced Sexual Harassment at Work? Contact an Illinois Discrimination Attorney
Contact an experienced Wheaton, IL sexual harassment lawyer at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC to discuss your sexual harassment claim. Call us at 630-665-7300 to schedule a free consultation.