Google sexual-misconduct protestors notch victory, but it’s not complete

Google caved in and threw a substantial concession to protesting employees angry over its responses to sexual misconduct, but did not give in to all the rebel Googlers’ demands.

Google on Thursday released a new policy ending forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault, satisfying a key demand of protest organizers.

Issuance of the new policy followed unprecedented public acts of defiance that saw thousands of Google employees walk off their jobs and rally against the firm at its Mountain View campus. Thousands more walked out of Google offices world-wide.

The internal revolt was sparked in part by news that Andy Rubin, considered the father of Google’s Android operating system, had received a $90 million golden parachute while being ushered out the door in 2014 over a claim that he’d forced an employee into sexual activity — a claim Rubin has denied. Google was reported by the New York Times to have protected three executives from accountability for sexual misconduct. Google responded that it’s fired 48 employees for sexual harassment in the past two years, giving none of them severance.

At the protest in Mountain View, one Googler took the microphone to tell the crowd she’d been sexually harassed by a company executive but it took three years and complaints from many more women before the company got rid of him. Another woman told the audience a co-worker had complimented her on her lipstick, then asked her to lick her lips.

According to Google’s new policy, arbitration in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases will be optional. That gives aggrieved employees the right to sue and air a dispute in a public court process, an outcome that large companies increasingly seek to avoid through arbitration agreements.

“We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a letter to employees. “It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

The Mountain View digital advertising giant also conceded to the insurgents’ demand that people complaining to HR about sexual misconduct be allowed to bring a companion to meetings.

And it will add a section to the annual “investigations report” that is accessible to all Google employees. The new section will “show the number of substantiated or partially substantiated concerns over time, by function,” Google said.

“It will also discuss trends, disciplinary actions taken, and substantiation percentages. We’ll also summarize, in this annual report, the types of behavior we do and do not terminate employees for.”

But the firm did not go along with the organizers’ demand that an employee be placed on the company’s board. And it did not give in to the demand that it extend all the elements of the new policy to contractors and temporary workers.

Google also said that about 20 percent of harassment complaints arise from situations in which drinking alcohol was a factor, and the company says over-consumption of alcohol will now be “strongly discouraged.”

Additionally, the company appeared to …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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