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Facebook ends forced arbitration for sexual misconduct complaints, following Google’s lead

Facebook employees were forced to deal with sexual harassment claims internally.


Elizabeth VanMetre


Posted on Nov 10, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 1:58 am CDT

A Facebook policy requiring employee sexual harassment claims to be settled in forced arbitration, or secret, internal proceedings, is over.

This means Facebook employees will be able to file lawsuits against Facebook as a whole, or against individual harassers instead of being forced to handle the problem internally, the Wall Street Journal reports.  

Facebook has also made changes to its “workplace relationship policy.” Now, the company requires employees at a senior level to disclose if they are dating anyone on staff. No exceptions.

The new policy comes one day after Google announced it would change how it handles sexual misconduct. In an email to staff, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

The email followed a worldwide walkout last week in protest of the way the company handles sexual harassment claims. Staffers were horrified after reports leaked that Google executives got big payouts after being accused of sexual harassment.

The walkouts appeared to have a contagious effect across tech giants.

“Last year, we published our harassment policy because we believe that the more companies are open about their policies, the more we can all learn from one another,” Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesperson, said in a statement Friday. “Today, we are publishing our updated Workplace Relationships Policy and amending our arbitration agreements to make arbitration a choice rather than a requirement in sexual harassment claims.”

Forced arbitration has been used by large corporations to keep misconduct internal. The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute for Law & Policy released a study in 2017 that found 80 percent of the United States’ largest companies use mandatory arbitration clauses.

Hopefully, the change will continue to trickle to other giants using the clause, including Ford Motors, ExxonMobil, Amazon, and CVS.

H/T The Wall Street Journal

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*First Published: Nov 10, 2018, 4:15 pm CST