Nov. 1, 2018

Google Must Remove Forced Arbitration From Employee Contracts

Statement of Remington A. Gregg, Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: Today, in response to a New York Times article about how Google kept misconduct by several high-ranking officials secret, workers at nearly two-thirds of Google’s offices walked out to protest what they see as the company’s history of discrimination, harassment and mistreatment of workers. Chief among the workers’ demands is for Google to prohibit forced arbitration in employment contracts.

Google workers are rising up against an unjust practice – denying them the right to sue in court and as a group over harassment and discrimination claims through forced arbitration terms in employment contracts – that is widespread in corporate America. Public Citizen applauds and supports the workers for taking courageous action to eliminate this unjust restriction on their rights.

Forced arbitration is a privatized system of justice that forces workers into secret proceedings instead of allowing them to press their claims in front of a neutral judge in open court. When coupled with a ban on allowing workers to join together in class actions, these measures severely restrict workers’ access to justice.

Forcing workers into arbitration ensures that systemic issues of discrimination and harassment never see the light of day. This allows perpetrators to continue their actions without consequences and insulates companies from accountability for allowing such actions to continue.

Public Citizen is leading a coalition of four dozen organizations urging tech companies to remove forced arbitration clauses from their worker contracts. As of today, Uber and Lyft have taken the first step and no longer force workers into arbitration for claims related to harassment. Google should do the right thing and eliminate forced arbitration from all worker contracts for all types of claims against the company.

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