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Google ends forced arbitration contracts for workers after googler uprising

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The waves of protests and walkouts that swept Google last year had many grievances and concerns, from the company's Pentagon contract to supply AI for drones to the secret creation of a censored search tool for the Chinese market, but one central flashpoint was the revelation that the company had paid Android exec $90 million to quietly leave the company after a string of disturbing sexual harassment and abuse incidents came to light. The Rubin incident was compounded by the company's practice of forcing its employees to accept binding arbitration contracts as a condition of employment (binding arbitration clauses mean that you surrender your right to seek justice in court, including as part of a class-action suit, and instead agree to have your disagreements heard by a corporate "aribitrator" paid for by the company you're upset with, who generally -- unsurprisingly -- sides with that company). The binding arbitration contracts meant that women who had suffered systematic discrimination and abuse at Google could not sue the company, especially not collectively through class action suits, which are often the only economically feasible way for groups of people to get redress from giant, powerful corporations -- under binding arbitration, women who'd been abused at Google couldn't even sue to be released from their confidentiality clauses so that they could publicly discuss their experiences. Last month, a group of activist googlers launched the #endforcedarbitration campaign, which actively made the connection between #metoo and forced arbitration. Though the activists' long-term goal was the elimination of forced arbitration clauses in all employment contracts, their first target was Google's employment contracts, and they scored a hit on that first attempt: Google has retroactively waived all existing binding arbitration clauses in employee contracts, expanding on the company's November 2018 decision to remove arbitration from new hires' contracts. Read the rest

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