Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Google outlines steps to tackle workplace harassment

In Mountain View Dublin New York and more Google employees walked out to protest the way Google handles sexual misconduct allegations Google ends mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases
Herman Weaver | 09 November, 2018, 18:04

Google will end its policy of forcing workers to sign away their right to take a sexual harassment case to court, in a win for the 20,000 employees who staged a protest last week over alleged payouts to predatory executives.

"We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims", Mr Pichai wrote.

"This is an area where we need to continually make progress and are committed to doing so", Pichai said while detailing the comprehensive action plan to address the demands of the Google employees.

Employees who participated in the walkout were demanding an end to forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases, a commitment to end pay inequity, publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency reports and a clear policy for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.

He also said Google is consolidating the complaint system and that the process for handling concerns will include providing support people and counselors.

Google will also be expanding its Investigations Report to include a count of "substantiated or partially substantiated" claims over time, as well as trends, disciplinary actions, and substantiation percentages. It will offer extended counseling, support for accommodations and leaves, and it will put together a team of advisors on the Employee Relations team focused on sexual harassment and discrimination claims.

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With regard to training, Google says that starting next year, all employees will be required to complete sexual harassment training annually (it is now required every two years).

"We will impose more onerous actions if problems persist", Google said. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases).

The global walkout spread to many countries in Europe, North America and Asia, including Britain, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and Google's headquarters in Mountain View in northern California.

"They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top", organizer and Google employee Stephanie Parker said in a press release.

"We have an aspiration to be the best company in the world", Rodriguez said.

Most notably, it did not comment on calls for Google's board to have an employee representative, and for the company's chief diversity officer to report directly to the chief executive. The New York Times reported last month that Google had suppressed allegations of sexual misconduct against several of its executives, and had reportedly paid one executive $90 million when he left the company after a sexual misconduct investigation deemed allegations against him were credible.

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